Let’s go DEEP: Dracusquid
With incredible instincts of survival, some species can see even hundreds of years of life. I was browsing through the web looking for videos of creatures to bewilder myself earlier today and I got just what I wanted (and much more): The Vampire Squid from Hell. That is literally the direct translation of its scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.
The name itself is cool enough, but you guys have to really take a look at this squid.
This is no ordinary sotong you catch and barbecue. This squid means business. Very little people know about the Vampire Squid, and very little is known about it. However obscure this squid is, it has still sure made its legacy. It has been around for more than 100 years, which practically means that it is older than dinosaurs. For a species to remain for so long, this squid must have some pretty awesome skills to not only become the only representative of the Vampymoropha group (which is basically its squid clique), but also continue as a living fossil. That means that this squid has practically not changed since more than 100 years ago which also means that basically, this species of squid had been awesome right from the very beginning.
So how did the Vampire Squid live for so long? Well, the reason why it is named to be called “from hell” may well be because of where it resides. It hangs out at about 600 metros deep under the ocean. With very very little oxygen available at these depths of the ocean, this also means that there aren’t many predators around either. So, the ability of the Vampire Squid to require minimal oxygen to survive helped it to have been able to avoid any unnecessary confrontations with other species. Creepily alone, the Vampire Squid still has some defensive tricks up its tentacles just in case it has to defend itself when predators decide to snoop around.
Dracula has a cape, and so does the Vampire Squid. The difference is that the Vampire Squid’s cape has been pimped up for defensive purposes.
Like the Dracula, the Vampire Squid often hides its head under its cape. However, the Vampire Squid does this in a much jaw dropping way. It actually turns inside-out so that its cap-like body overturns itself over its head so it can hide from predators. Turned over, it is seen that the squid’s cape is lined with spikes which successfully enables it to hide and camouflage itself away from predators and turn them away, convincing them that there is nothing to eat. This is (quite humorously) called the “pumpkin posture”.
When probed with danger, the edges of its cape which are essentially the tips Vampire Squid’s tentacles also light up to confuse its predators. Living in an environment where there is extremely little or no light present at all, the Vampire Squid has this clever ability to use luminous fluids that they secrete in times of danger (rather than the mainstream excretion of squid ink by most other squids). The tentacles of the squid are not the only parts of the squid that can be lighted up. Because of its low-light environment, the Vampire Squid has a very fitting anatomy of having huge eyes that also light up in the dark. This gives the squid the advantage to see better in an environment with no light. After having confused its predator and sensing that there is no longer danger, the elusive squid then disappears into the darkness of the ocean. At this point of time I’d insert some creepy tune from the organ but I’ll skip that and you can just see what I mean.
Getting to know more about the Vampire Squid is like reading a Gothic tale about a very mysterious creature that the guys on Destination Truth try to catch on camera from time to time. But it is its creepy behavior and body structure that allows it to have carried on its legacy for so long. The example of the Vampire Squid and all its fascinating behaviors and capabilities remind us just how little we actually know of the earth and its species, and how we really should get out to learn more so we can protect magnificent creatures such as the Vampire Squid, especially from ourselves.
Young, Richard E. 2012. Vampyroteuthidae Thiele, in Chun, 1915. Vampyroteuthis infernalis Chun, 1903. The Vampire Squid. Version 04 July 2012 http://tolweb.org/Vampyroteuthis_infernalis/20084/2012.07.04 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/
Fothergill, A. (Director) (2006). Planet earth [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3CJIKKSUpg
Shapiro, L. (n.d.). Vampyroteuthis infernalis. Retrieved from http://eol.org/pages/492277/details
Owen, J. (n.d.). Pictures: Vampire squid’s surprising diet revealed. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/09/pictures/120929-vampire-squid-deep-ocean-animals-science-monterey/
“The Vampire Squid” Faville, C. The Compass Rose, 31 Oct 2011. URL: Owen, J. (n.d.). Pictures: Vampire squid’s surprising diet revealed. Retrieved from http://compassrosebooks.blogspot.sg/2011/10/vampire-squid.html. Accessed on 10 Apr 2010