Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interesting Animals: Vampire Squid from Hell

This is one of my favorites: Vampyroteuthis infernalis, which literally means "vampire squid from hell."

Artist's rendition, best I could do.
The name is more than a bit appropriate. They live in the very deep sea, are blood red in color, and have spines instead of suckers on most of the length of their arms, though suckers are found on the ends. It isn't quite a squid, and in fact shares traits with both squid and octopuses. They have two fins that appear to be almost ear-like and are used for swimming in the adults. They have extraordinarily large blue eyes, and have numerous parts of the body that are bioluminescent, including the end of the mantle and tips of the arms, which are used to attract prey. They can also release a cloud of bioluminescence as a distraction to predators. One of the most extraordinary things is when threatened they will go into what is called the "pineapple position" with legs arching up to cover its mantle, making use of the dark skin there for protection. My words really do not give these amazingly unusual invertebrates justice.

They have been featured in such documentaries as Planet Earth, as seen below beginning at 0:49.

The footage of these odd cephalapods is all amazing and, despite its lack of David Attenborough, this is some of my favorite.

Image is from Wikimedia Commons under a creative commons license. Source is MarineBio which has yet another video of these creatures.

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