The Most Boring Squid on Earth?

squidMuch speculation occurs among biologists about the uses for all those arms and tentacles in squids.  Eight arms and two tentacles seem like appendage overkill.  I do fine with two arms. Well not me because I’m uncoordinated, but other humans I hear can achieve amazing feats with just two arms.  I have a running theory, developed over cocktails, about what all those squiddy limbs are for.  These are not thoroughly researched. Yet. Thankfully, crack teams of teuthologists spend countless evenings actually researching this question as opposed to in addition to just drinking cocktails and coming up with hypotheses.

Most squids possess two long tentacles that can quickly be extended and retracted.  The flattened end of the tentacle, called the club, is covered in suckers, hooks, or in the most awesome of squids, both.  The tentacles and their clubs are highly modified prey capturing machines.  For squids, clubbing means something entirely different.

Grimalditeuthis-bonplandiThen there is Grimalditeuthis bonplandi. You think with being named after the Grimaldi family, the reigning house of Monaco, and the French scientist Aimé Bonpland that this squid would be much cooler.  Nope this squid is like the anti-squid, the gelatinous slow moving kin of the musculature fast moving squids.  The tentacles break easily because they are thin and puny.  These squid lack the musculature to quickly, or maybe even slowly, extend and retract the tentacles.  The tentacle clubs are devoid of both suckers and hooks.  They can’t don’t even light up the clubs with bioluminescence.

Yep, by all accounts Grimalditeuthis bonplandi is the least cool squid on the planet.

With such insipid tentacles how does this squid even capture prey? Grimalditeuthis bonplandi undulates and flaps the clubs…gently. These movements may cause other nearby animals to become agitated and bioluminescence.  Probably because Grimalditeuthis is so boring.  Or alternatively, the movements may mimic the vibrations of small prey or mates thereby attracting predators or mates close to the squid. That’s right Grimalditeuthis attracts other animals to it by acting like other, different animals.  Basically, these spiritless movements attract prey perhaps even duller than Grimalditeuthis.

However as the authors of the new study note, “When a predator exploits its resemblance to a non-threatening or inviting object or species to gain access to prey, it is referred to as aggressive mimicry. Luring is one form of aggressive mimicry…” So, the torpid Grimalditeuthis is a least aggressively luring.  Nope, that just makes its creepy.

Antipathy of Arms 

2 oz light rum
1 1/2 oz  vodka
1 oz lime juice
Fresca citrus soda

Take 2 oz light rum, 1 1/2 oz vodka, and 1 oz lime juice and shake in shaker with crushed ice. Fill highball glass 2/3 full of ice cubes. Pour rum/vodka/lime juice mix into highball until 1/2 full-fill the rest with Fresca. DO NOT stir.

Antipathy of Arms recipe http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink2t1s618.html#ixzz2edDNsFOk

 

 

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Dr. M (1619 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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5 comments on “The Most Boring Squid on Earth?
  1. Pingback: The Most Boring Squid on Earth? | Rocketboom

  2. Maybe it’s to attract a mate!

    Kind of like when I would take my friend’s cute lil toddler to the store with me to pick up chicks?

    I hope that’s it, because now if it’s NOT to mate the fact that they dangle a tiny version of themselves takes on a slightly darker tone.

    That makes it more like us using fake babies on lures to catch small bears.

  3. Maybe they keep finding them the morning after a huge squid party? Barely undulating, using little energy, attracting food to come to it rather than actively chasing … sounds like a typical hangover morning. This squid could have a hardcore secret life.

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