Vampire Squid And The Evolution Of Cephalopod Sex

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Squid Lady Parts

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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 »

Is the Age of Exploration long dead? At The Last Word on Nothing, Richard Panek made the point that there's no longer anywhere on Earth people haven't been. Even the South Pole, which many would consider the most remote spot on the planet, is a regular tourist destination.

Ah! But what about the deep sea? Humans obviously haven't seen every inch of it--not even close. And the deepest spot in the ocean, the Challenger Deep, is much harder to visit than the South Pole. In fact, only one manned expedition has ever touched bottom, making it more like the moon than the pole.
The Telegraph's first picture of the day is a terrifying action shot of a huge dolphin's toothy maw, about to chomp down on a sweet little red squid. Go look at it! Right now! But it's not my fault if you get nightmares. 
Dolphins are so scary.

(As this picture was shot in the Bahamas, the squid is most likely a Caribbean Reef Squid.)
If you want to know basic things about animals, like who eats whom, you might guess that your days would consist of watching real-life nature documentaries. You might expect to go out into the savannah or into the depths of the sea to observe predators hunting and devouring their prey.

Actually, it takes a lot of sitting still and watching to see even a single predation event. It turns out you can get a lot more data a lot more quickly by looking at predator vomit and feces. Oh, the glamour of science!

When it comes to squid, the remmants they leave in their predators' guts or scat are usually beaks. These hard, chitinous structures last a lot longer than the muscle that makes up the rest of the squid.
Baby squid are the cutest, right? I mean, right
Back in August, an iPhone game called simply "Squids" charmed me with its adorable, somewhat-anatomically-plausible rendition of my favorite animal. Luckily for my productivity, however, I don't have an iPhone--I have a Nexus One.
To no one's surprise, environmentalists and industry lobbyists are butting heads in a major legal wrangle over California's "wetfish"--sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and market squid. As you may recall, the pretty little market squid is the state's single biggest fishery:

Opalescent inshore squid by Joshua Sera