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    Eightfold Path To Cephalopod Domination
    By Danna Staaf | March 24th 2010 09:50 PM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Danna

    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...

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    Now that the latest battle in the invertebrate wars seems to have died down a bit (victors inconclusive, of course), I can post a list of cool things about cephalopods that have put them in the news lately, without it necessarily having to serve as ammunition. (<---WOW, that was the most awkward sentence ever, but guess who DOES NOT CARE, because she has been locked in a basement for a week writing her dissertation! HI!)

    1. They used to rule the world. As I'm sure Dr. Fuchs discussed in his lecture:
    The vast fossil beds of Vancouver Island have been recognized as something rare and unique. It has now become apparent that the ancient mud that our fossils are buried in preserves the remains of ancient octopus and other squid like creatures. Recent discoveries by local collectors, has caught the attention of scientists around the world.

    Dr. Fuchs is from the University of Berlin and is one of the world's leading experts in fossil coleiod cephalopods. His talk will cover the evolution of octopuses and squids from ancient to modern times.
    Man, I wish I could have gone to that!

    2. They continue to be ridiculously photogenic and just, well, adorable. Bobtail squid, I'm looking at you!

    3. A favorite target for sensationalism! Apparently now giant squid "rival the star power" of great white sharks. Yeah! Level up! Or something! In all scientific seriousness, though, the evidence for great white sharks hunting giant squid is shaky at best: they just found white sharks, medium-sized squid, and sperm whales all in the same location.
    Purple and neon flying squids were easy to find. There also were leaping sperm whales, a marine mammal known to feed in spawning areas for large squids. To Domeier, it was clear: The sharks had found a squid-based ecosystem with big enough prey to attract sperm whales.

    4. And of course, there's the article everyone's been sending me, Giant Squid Get Radical Plastic Surgery. I kept getting confused, because I remembered seeing this in the news years ago. Weren't giant squid, in fact, one of the first things to be plastinated? Mais non! The plan to plastinate made the news in 2004, but it's taken this long to actually get the job done.

    5. Anyway, if you can't make it to NZ to see the plastinated squid, try Florida for a less plastic but probably still pretty awesome display. And let me know how it looks!

    6. Or, if you're willing to scale down from giant to jumbo, and if you happen to be an educator, you can actually order a squid shipped to your doorstep (when supplies are restocked). And then you can dissect it with your students! Squid are the easiest dissection in the world; it hardly even deserves to be called a dissection. So that is another win for the cephalopods--although maybe "easy to dissect" is not something to strive for.
    "This is just an amazing experience," [high school senior] Greg said later.

    He may as well have been speaking for all the marine sciences students, who would have been squinting at 10-inch squids if not for this connection with Stanford University's Squids 4 Kids program, which brings giant Humboldts to schools.

    7. What's that, tunicate lovers? Are tunicates the best invertebrate for studying immune systems? THINK AGAIN!

    8. And finally, there's that totally unscientific, but totally undeniable, alien first-contact feeling that you can get from cephalopods. Roland Anderson, one of the world experts on Giant Pacific Octopus, recently wrote a book about octopuses . . .
    When Anderson, 63, began working nights at the aquarium in 1977, he says, "I got the feeling they were looking at me. When I looked at them, they were looking back."
    Yeah. I get that feeling too.

    Comments

    Wow, you laid it down! Thats going to be hard to compete with. I wonder if students would be interested in cm long limpets, cause I literally got hundreds of thousands of tiny little vent limpets LOL

    Danna Staaf
    Maybe kids could do limpet arrangements? Like the Victorian diatom arrangements?