February 21, 2010
February has been a hectic and exhausting month, and it turns out I needed a little break from my usual frenetic schedule of daily blog posts. (Plus I’ve become slightly addicted to the Winter Olympics.) Of course, during the down time I’ve ended up with a large backlog of material—not the least of which are the final two entries of the Ten Sensational Squids countdown. So, while I work on getting caught up, please enjoy the following video presentation by David Gallo, which reminds us all why cephalopods are so freakin’ awesome.
February 10, 2010
The Challengers of the Unknown are a team of adventurers from the Silver Age of DC Comics. They were created by the legendary Jack Kirby (possibly co-created with writer Dave Wood) and debuted in Showcase #6 (Feb. 1957). The Challengers would appear three more times in that anthology series (#12, shown here, was the last) before moving on to their own title, which ran for 80 issues and was canceled in 1973. (Kirby would leave the series after 12 issues to go work for Marvel Comics, where he would help create, among other things, the Fantastic Four.)
The original team roster was made up of Ace Morgan (test pilot), Red Ryan (daredevil), Rocky Davis (prize fighter), and Prof Haley (scientist). In later issues, June Robinson (computer genius and archaeologist) would often join the team on adventures. In their first story, all four men survive a plane crash and, because they are now “living on borrowed time,” they decide then and there to devote their life to danger, adventure, and heroism. Their escapades would pit them against both common criminals and supernatural beings. Monsters, aliens, time-travelers, and superheroes were all par for the course. Like their fellow Silver Age adventurers the Sea Devils, the Challengers of the Unknown have no super powers. And also like the Sea Devils, they would occasionally be menaced by giant cephalopods.
The “Challs” (as they are known to their fans) still show up from time to time in the modern DC Universe, and their most notable recent appearance is a story arc from the 2007 revival of The Brave and the Bold. They were also featured prominently in Darwyn Cook’s masterful mini-series DC: The New Frontier (2003-2004). DC has reprinted two volumes of the Challengers’ Silver Age stories for Showcase Presents, a line of inexpensive black and white trade paperbacks. The cover of Volume 1 (below) is a recolored version of the Kirby’s original cover of Showcase #12. Here the giant orange octopus has been given demonic glowing eyes, making its destruction of the Challs’ sporty wood-paneled motor boat seem even more malevolent!
February 9, 2010
February 4, 2010
3. Magnapinna sp.
Rare and poorly understood, Bigfin Squid were first formally defined in the 1990′s (although a single damaged specimen discovered in 1907 —M. talismani—has been subsequently assigned to the genus). Species of Magnapinna are characterized by small heads, large eyes, and very large fins that extend well beyond the posterior tip of the mantle. Almost all specimens described to date have been paralarvae or juveniles, and the adult forms are officially unknown. However, on multiple occasions in recent years, ROV submersibles have captured footage of a previously unknown large squid that is suspected to be the adult form of Magnapinna. Also known as the Long-arm Squid, these mysterious cephalopods are unlike anything previously observed.
Its arms and tentacles (which are of equal length) are held perpendicular to the body and then angle downward (sometimes at 90°) at strange “elbows.” The relative length of arms/tentacles to the body is greater than in any other known squid (15-20 times the mantle length), and the total length of the animal is estimated to be as much as 8 meters (~26 feet). The Long-arm Squid has been observed in the Gulf of Mexico, the Indian Ocean, waters off Ghana and Brazil, and, as seen here, Hawaii.
February 1, 2010
4. Taningia danae (Dana Octopus Squid)
T. danae is the sole species of the genus Taningia, and it is one of the largest known species of squid. It can attain a mantle length of 1.7 meters (5.58 ft) and weigh up to 61.4 kg (over 135 lb). (The specimen pictured above has ML of just over 1 meter.)
Apart from its impressive size, Taningia has many distinctive characteristics. The common name “Octopus Squid” (which also applies to the other species in the family Octopoteuthidae) reflects that adults only have eight arms, having lost their two tentacles during development. Two of these arms are tipped with large photophores. These light-emitting organs have muscular lids, giving the squid the ability to produce intense flashes of light when it attacks its prey. T. danae also has exceptionally large, muscular fins, which are fused on the dorsal midline and are nearly the length of the mantle.
In 2005, live footage (including the video below) of the the Dana Octopus Squid was shot by Japanese researchers at depths of 240-940 meters off the Ogasawara Islands in the North Pacific.
Additionally, here is another video that shows a squid that looks very much like Taningia danae that has attached itself to a light on a deep sea oil rig.