February 4, 2011
January 31, 2011
If you are reading this blog, you already know that cephalopods are awesome…and why they are awesome. (And that is why YOU are awesome!) However, it is always nice when someone, such as BoingBoing contributor Maggie Koerth-Baker, expertly summarizes the amazing features of our squishy friends. This pithy video is the short version of “Those Fabulous Octopus Brains,” a 30 min presentation she gave last August for a University of New Mexico IGERT symposium.
If you want to see the original full-length presentation, you can find it here.
I know I’ve let this blog languish a bit recently, and I thank you for sticking with me. Over the past few months I have collected literally hundreds of links to cool examples of cephalopod art, photography, and miscellaneous awesomeness. Over the next week or so, I plan to flood your RSS reader with a veritable swarm of new posts (although I guess “shoal” might be a more biologically apt term). I also haven’t forgotten about the Architeuthis Across America project…I just need to get my house in order first.
September 3, 2010
This amazing animation showing how Physeter macrocephalus uses echolocation to hunt, is from the Whales Tahora exhibit now at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The Sperm Whale starts out hunting boring old fish, but don’t worry, he meets an delicious Architeuthis by the end of the clip!
July 16, 2010
June 22, 2010
We interrupt Plush Week to bring you this awesome video by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). I’m virtually certain that the first few are Humbolt Squid (Docidicus gigas), but can anyone identify the rest?
In the comments, Linda Kuhnz from MBARI comes to the rescue. She says…
The squids featured in this video were filmed in Monterey Bay (except for the Piglet Squid, which was filmed in the Gulf of California) at depths ranging from 980 to 3,150 feet.
A) Black-eyed Squid (Gonatus)
B) Humboldt Squid (Doscidicus gigas)
C) Swordtail Squid (Chiroteuthis)
D) Market Squid (Doryteuthis opalescens)
E) Cockatoo Squid (Galiteuthis)
F) Swordtail Squid (Chiroteuthis)
G) Octopus Squid (Octopoteuthis)
H) Piglet Squid (Heliocranchia)
I) Swordtail Squid (Chiroteuthis)
June 19, 2010
Today is the opening day of a new special exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
Don’t miss the first-ever museum exhibition to explore the phenomenon of bioluminescence — an organism’s ability to produce its own light.
Visitors to Glow: Living Lights start their journey by investigating the chemical process that produces “cool” light. They then explore the world of light-producing terrestrial organisms like fireflies, glow worms and foxfire fungus before traveling on to the mid-ocean, where an estimated 90 percent of the animals produce light. Here visitors encounter alien-looking creatures like viper fish, which dangle a light lure to attract their next meal, and cookie cutter sharks, which earned their name from the cookie-size chunks of flesh they take out of unsuspecting prey in the dark. Visitors continue on to demonstrations of the interesting techniques and equipment used by scientists to study bioluminescence, and then explore the many benefits of this research — from helping to speed the study of cancer-fighting drugs to the detection of anthrax spores in public places.
The exhibit is open from 10 am–5 pm Monday–Saturday and noon–5 pm Sunday, with the last entry at 4 pm every day.
Tickets prices are: $7 Adults; $5 Seniors/Students; $4 Children (5–11); free to Members.
Although cephalopods aren’t specifically mentioned in the above description, they use an image of a biolumenescent squid on their site and their print ads for the exhibit, so I’m confident our glowy, tentacled friends will be included!
If you’ve never been to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, I highly recommend it. Their permenent exhibits include a nearly complete mounted skelton of Cretaceous Theropod Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (aka, Acro, Terror of the South!), a specimen of the Cretaceous Ornithopod Thescelosaurus which was found with a fossilized heart (aka, Willo), and an impressive collection of mounted whale skeletons.
The museum is located at 11 West Jones St, Raleigh, NC. It’s open seven days a week and admisson is Free (except for special exhibits).
June 16, 2010
Speaking of podcasts…the newest episode of Skeptic Magazine’s Monster Talk podcast is out, and it’s all about the mythos and monsters of H.P. Lovecraft. In the show, Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price discusses the life, works, and cultural impact of the master of cosmic horror. Additionally, biologist PZ Myers (of the Pharyngula blog) talks about the biology of cephalopods and how they served as the inspiration for Lovecraft’s most famous creation. (Spoiler Alert: it’s Cthulhu.)
The episode is a little over 1 hour long, and I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. Of course, I have quite a bit of extra time on my hands these days (in theory at least), so I’m sure I can block out some time for one of my favorite topics!
You can download the episode (June 16, show 019) and read the show notes here.
Monster Talk is a skeptical look at the creatures of cryptozoology and folklore. Hosts Blake Smith, Ben Radford, and Dr. Karen Stollznow interview scientists and other experts about the science (or lack thereof) behind the word’s legendary beats.
You can subscribe to Monster Talk for free via RSS or iTunes.
May 29, 2010
Bringing things back to our own temporal stomping grounds, the Holocene (aka, Now), here are two news stories that serve as nice addenda to a couple of recent posts.
First, we have some new research about the metabolism of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, Sensational Squid #2;
Summary: A study published in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom finds that M. hamiltoni is not a ferocious hunter as often imagined, but rather a slow, passive ambush predator. The researchers measured the metabolic rates of smaller cold water squid species and scaled up the results to account for the size of the Colossal Squid. Their analysis indicates that the Colossal Squid has a very low metabolic rate, low energy requirements, and moves very slowly. The study team estimates that a single 11 pound fish can sustain a 1,100 pound squid for 200 days.
The next story is directly related to last week’s Argonaut video;
Summary: In a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, biologists Julian Finn and Mark Norman (both of Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Australia) have found that female Argonauts use air bubbles trapped in their shell-like egg cases to control their buoyancy. When wild Argonauts lost the air bubble, they were observed quickly swimming to the surface to take in more air. They positioned their bodies within their cases to create an air-tight seal and then descended to a depth where the water pressure compressed the trapped air enough to achieve neutral buoyancy.
May 28, 2010
I’m still in a paleontological mood after yesterday’s big news, so here is another big fossil…literally. Parapuzosia seppenradensis is desmoceratid ammonite from Late Cretaceous Germany, and it is the largest known ammonite species. An incomplete specimen found in 1895 had a diameter of 1.95 meters (~6 ft), and in life it is estimated to have been 2.55 meters (over 8 ft) across.
As big as P. seppenradensis was, it was by no means the largest prehistoric cephalopod. That honor goes to the giant Ordovician orthoconic (i.e. straight-shelled) nautiloid Cameroceras, which may have been as much 11 meters long (~36 ft). Of course that is the topic for another post…