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Squid Lady Parts

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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 »

Pick your favorite environmental concern, or better yet, tally them up together: pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, climate change. No matter how bleak the picture, there are some creatures (besides humans) who seem able to conform, adapt, even thrive. Even if we're in the middle of an anthropogenic mass extinction, it doesn't mean the world is going to turn into a lifeless rock. Instead, we're tumbling towards what David Quammen calls the Planet of Weeds.
Have you ever known--I mean, been absolutely certain--that you were going to die?

That's how seaQuest's Lt. Krieg felt, when a sea monster grabbed his submersible and gave it a good shaking. He survived, and made it back to the main ship, where no one believes him about the monster but everyone is interested in the shiny rocks he found while he was out.
Mark your calendars! A Japanese broadcaster is joining forces with the Science Channel and renowned giant squid biologist Tsunemi Kubodera (the guy who went fishing with a long string and a bag of shrimp) on an "international quest to find and film a living giant squid." (Again.)
I've mentioned a couple of obscure "squids" here already, the bobtail squid (sepioids, actually more closely related to cuttlefish) and ram's horn squid (spirulids, which form their own evolutionary offshoot of decapods).

Today I am here to rhapsodize about another group that is little in every way--comprising only eight species, about which scant information is known, and which are the smallest squid in the world. By "small" I actually mean "minuscule." Adult pygmy squid can be smaller than your fingernail. Here's Idiosepius pygmaeus:

Wistfully I wish you all a very happy Decapod Day! The Cephalopod Awareness Days have been fun, and I can hardly believe they're coming to an end. Many thanks to Jason of Cephalopodcast for turning this year's celebration into a three-day event!
On this, the second of the International Cephalopod Appreciation Days, we turn our attention to the pearly nautilus, and "other lesser-known extant and extinct cephalopods."

My favorite is the spirulid, or ram's horn squid. I was introduced to them in Australia, where I kept finding these perfect little white curls in the island beach wrack: