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Danna StaafRSS Feed of this column.

Cephalopods have been rocking my world since I was in grade school. I pursued them through a BA in marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, followed by a PhD dissertation at... Read More »

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Guess who’s not being displayed in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's new "Tentacles" exhibit, opening April 12? Who is just too difficult for this award-winning institution to handle?
In case you missed the memo (HOW COULD YOU), we're in the middle of International Cephalopod Awareness Days. Over the years the celebration has grown to encompass five full days of merriment (you can follow the joy on facebook) and I'm pretty sure we'll end by taking the whole of October. It's the 10th month but still contains the number 8 in its name, making it naturally welcoming to a taxonomic group composed primarily of octopods and decapods.
When we want to blow our minds with the sheer vastness of nature, we often turn to astronomy. In fact, we use the word astronomical to mean really a whole lot. But today, I'd like to make a case for biology.
Dear Squid of the World,

Excuse me. What is this? I have been your friend and advocate for years. No, DECADES. (Two, to be specific.) I have championed your cause to family and friends, students and total strangers. I wore the shirts. I read the books. I even got a PEE AITCH DEE in the science of baby squid. I think I've earned a modicum of consideration. A smidgeon of thoughtfulness.

But no. I go on maternity leave to care for my firstborn and what do you do? Everything
Squid typically die after spawning. Their orphaned eggs are left alone in the cold brine to develop and hatch, never knowing a mother's tender caress. 

But as in all of biology, there are exceptions.

It's strangely appropriate that the second of these exceptions has entered, stage left, just as I am preparing to exit, stage right, in order to engage in the intensive parental care typical of humans. I'll be spawning within the next few weeks, and taking a hiatus from the blogosphere to focus on my in-home developmental biology experiment.
To celebrate International Cephalopod Awareness Days, I decided to comb through all the cephalopod news since last October (and there's been quite a bit of it) to bring you the top ten essential, not-to-be missed stories of cephalopod science and culture. The theme of 2012 seems to have been the discovery of unexpected and slightly embarrassing habits . . .