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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 »

Bad news has come for Illex argentinus, a cousin of my own dear Dosidicus gigas (they're both in the squid family Ommastrephidae). As the scientific name suggests, I. argentinus is found and fished off the coast of Argentina--and the 2009 season has ended with the national catch in precipitous decline from years past.
Rolling Stone began a recent article with this provocative lede: "The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." [emphasis mine]
A couple of weeks ago someone found a "mysterious container" by the road in Atascosa County, Texas.
Authorities in Atascosa County said the container appeared to contain hair and bones. They were concerned that the materials might be human in nature.
Apparently, for a week in 2006 the UK newspaper The Guardian gave away wallcharts (=posters) as a promotional gambit to drum up readership. It seems the charts were all nature-themed, with a strong marine component and significant cephalopod representation! I found out about this phenomenon from a Guardian reader:
I have never quite managed to understand who at the Guardian thought those posters about nature would be a good idea – the ones with drawings of trees and birds and the like. I seem to remember one particularly baffling one that detailed species of squid and cuttlefish. Which demographic did they think would be interested in this?
Belemnoteuthis antiquus is technically not a squid, but a belemnite. Belemnites were the first cephalopods (as far as we know) to develop the ingeniously internalized shell that led to the radiation of nearly all modern cephalopods--octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. External shells like those of the ammonites provided predator protection, but they were heavy and hard to maneuver. Presumably, internalizing the shell led to improvements in swimming, freeing these proto-squid so they could compete effectively with fish. However, belemnites did not evolve directly into modern cephalopods--they went extinct.
Proving myself wrong in record time (see comments on my first post, where I claimed I wouldn't be discussing squid recipes), today's squid is served with chiles, lime, and herbs.


The coincidence was just too good to pass up. Another commenter suggested that squid popularity these days isn't just a flash in the pan--and then a recipe blog in the Village Voice by that very name posts a squid dish!