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: Squids



From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published November 18, 2010 05:34 PM

Squids

When one imagines a squid, the image that comes to mind is of a giant monster (i.e, Kraken of mythic fame) grappling with boats and whales. Squid are marine cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles. Squid are strong swimmers and certain species can 'fly' for short distances out of the water. Some are giant and some are tenaciously small. An expedition to the seamounts of the southern Indian Ocean has proven that the region is a biodiverse hotspot for squids. To date, the expedition has identified 70 species of squid comprising 20% of the world's known squid species. But that's not all: they have also uncovered new species.

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The majority of squids are no more than 24 inches long, although the giant squid may reach over forty feet in length. In 1978, sharp, curved claws on the suction

cups of squid tentacles cut up the rubber coating on the hull of the USS Stein. The size suggested the largest squid known at the time. In 2003, a large specimen of an abundant species, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (the Colossal Squid), was discovered. This species may grow to 46 feet in length, making it the largest invertebrate. Squid have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom.

Giant squid are featured in literature and folklore with a frightening connotation. The Kraken is a legendary tentacled monster possibly based on the sightings of real giant squid.  They are, in many ways, the epitome of what an alien creature should look like.

At just over 2 feet long (27 inches or 70 centimeters), a species of squid found by the new Indian seamount expedition proves to be a brand new member of the chiroteuthid family. Squids from this family, which number around a dozen known species, employ bioluminescent organs to attract unwary prey.

Undertaken last year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) expedition spent six weeks searching in the Indian Ocean. Now, researchers are busy sorting out the 7,000 samples.

There are many other isolated seamounts in the oceans of the world. each one could help represent its own unique set of squids and other marine creatures.

For further information: http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1118-hance_newsquid.html

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