Friday, April 27, 2007
Yeah, you heard me right. An octopus with suckers on its tentacles that emit light! Apparently squids and cuttlefish are known to have light organs in their bodies. This study found that the deep sea finned octopus Stauroteuthis syrtensis has suckers that are bioluminescent and emit blue-green light (Johnsen, et al. 1999).
The study says that "when stimulated" the suckers emit light that can last up to five minutes. The light organs can glow or blink on and off. The suckers aren't able to stick to surfaces, so they may be evolved from functional suckers. Apparently, it may have been S. syrtensis' move to the deep sea that turned his traditional suckers into light emitting organs.
The authors believe the modified suckers are for communication and prey attraction. They might be used in sexual signaling (like all those lights on the vegas strip). The suckers might also be used to trap small crustaceans, because crustaceans are attracted to bioluminescence (because the crabs' food is often bioluminescent).
Reference: S. Johnsen, E.A. Balser, and E.A. Widder, 1999. Light-emitting suckers in an octopus. Nature, vol. 398, pp. 113-114.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
from Sipho Mabona--he has all kinds of creatures on his site--ants, dung beetles, praying mantises!
This octopus was folded and photographed by John Paulsen. The model is from Peter Engel, in Origami from Angelfish to Zen, 1994, Dover Publications, New York.
I found this one here, I'm guessing it is a Japanese origami site?
This shiny guy originates from The Zingman Origami Gallery.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Octopus girl is a Japanese comic about a girl made to eat octopus even though she is allergic to it. Not surprisingly, this turns her into a human head with octopus tentacles (I had a similar fear that broccoli would do this to me as a child). The reviewer at this site states that the comic is a mix of "horror and gore with comedy, the end result is something like 'Betty and Veronica' meet 'Night of the Living Dead' on the ocean floor." Sign me up!
I kind of want other comics about people force fed things they are allergic to, and then become that thing with their head squished on top of it. For instance "hay fever girl," "peanut girl" "dust-mite girl," and "environmental allergy girl" all seem like good possibilities.
Picture and review quotes from: www.pacificdreams.org
Monday, April 23, 2007
Because I'm fairly certain this squid ninja would have kicked her ass. Don't you wish you could have your own squid ninja to rumble with? Well you can't--I saw the picture on Etsy.com (here's the link) and it looks like they sold out long long ago.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
I was at a party the other weekend, and a friend and I started waxing philosophically about how great squid and octopuses are.
Another woman at the party exclaimed "I have a fear of squid! Those eyes! Those giant eyes! I hate to think of them swimming beneath me in the ocean!"
Which, if you don't love cephalopods, being deathly afraid of them is pretty cool, too.
Not quite sure what to say about this, except that the theme must have been "under the sea." I wish the octopus were a little scarier, instead of so goofy. Or at least more suave. But still, major points for using lighter colored balloons for the underneath of the tentacles.
a photo of ze criminal:
and ze unsuspecting victim:
From H. Lee's 1875 book "The Octopus; or, The Devil-Fish of Fiction and of Fact":
"In May, 1873, it was found that some young lump-fish...were mysteriously disappearing from one of the tanks. Almost daily there was a fresh and inexplicable vacancy...and morning after morning a handbill might have been issued:-"Missing! Lost, stolen, or strayed, a young 'lump-sucker,' rather below the middle size, and enormously stout; had on a bright blue coat, with several rows of buttons on it, and a waistcoat of lighter colour..."
"What on earth can have become of them?" "Where can they be?" were the questions each attendant asked in vain of another.
One morning, however, Mr. Lawler, one of the staff, on going to count our young friends, found an interloper amongst them. "Who put this octopus in No. 27 tank? he inquired of the keepers. "Octopus, sir? no one! Well, if he ain't bin and got over out of the next tank!" And this was just the fact.
The marauding rascal had occasionally issued from the water in his tank, and clambered up the rocks, and over the wall into the next one; there he had helped himself to a young lump-fish, and, having devoured it, returned demurely to his own quarters by the same route, with a well-filled stomach and contented mind...he paid frequent nocturnal poaching visits to [the tank], and, after clearing up every remnant of his meal, regularly slunk home before daylight; until, like most criminals, becoming careless by frequently escaping detection, he, on the last occasion, indulged at supper-time in an inordinate gorge, and slept under his neighbor's porch instead of going home to bed."
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Cephalopod sex does seem to leave something to be desired as it often involves the male jamming sperm packets into the tentacles or orifices of female cephalopods. Luckily, I am no longer in college so you will not have to read a feminist interpretation of this activity. But, sadly, it seems that vast size does not improve squid lovemaking skill. Two giant squids were caught off the coast of Tasmania in 1997, and one of the squids had "embedded spermatophores in the skin on both ventral arms" (Norman and Lu, 1997).
Apparently male squid often make "wounds" on female squid and then stick in their sperm packet (Unlike other cephalopods who have modified arms to pass their sperm packets to the ladies). How are these wounds on the female tentacles made? Well, the male squid "may use their beak or the sharp scythe-like hooks found on the tentacles and/or arms." Then they have a "long muscular penis" they use to pass the spermatophores into the wounds.
In giant squid, the authors suggest that "male giant squids also use the penis to transfer spermatophores directly to the female...the muscular penis might 'inject' the spermatophores into the skin, potentially under hydraulic pressure." (Yes, hydraulic pressure.) But, don't worry too much about chafing: "Architeuthis spermatophores are enveloped in a gelatinous coating...which may act as a lubricant." Tender!
Most entertaining is a report on an "accidental injection" in a male giant squid caught in Norway in the 1950's. This male had spermatophores embedded in several of his arms and the mantle. He may have accidentally injected himself, or another male might have done it. The authors do not go so far, however, to suggest the possiblity of an alternate lifestyle in giant squid, though that is what i will propose in an upcoming NIH grant.
M.D. Norman and C.C. Lu. Sex in giant squid. Nature, 1997, vol. 389, pp. 683-684.
My friend richey sent me a link yesterday to babies in squid costumes. As i followed the link, i found myself at a squid site that made me emit small mewling sounds of envy. It's connected to the laughing squid from San Francisco. San Francisco. Where the cool kids live.
Monday, April 16, 2007
The squid Gonatus onyx, which lives in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, broods its eggs by holding them in its tentacles 6-9 months while they mature to hatchling stage (Siebel, et al.).
Apparently, until these photos and video were taken, it was thought these squid just dropped their eggs off on sea floor and said see ya. But, in this study, five female squid were observed holding egg masses containing 2,000-3,000 eggs at depths up to 2,522 m. off the coast of California.
This video shows one of the squids with a mature egg mass (thanks to marc for sending this to me). You can see some of the eggs hatching. Try to ignore the annoying music, which I don't think the squid picked out.
Post-spawning egg care by a squid. 2005. Nature. B.A. Siebel, B.H. Robison, and S.H.D. Haddock. vol. 438, pp. 929.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
alert reader and squid uber-enthusiast kelly enlightened me to a new vocabulary word, courtesy of urbandictionary.com:
squid beak: A squid beak is similar to a camel toe. It is the visible sign of a woman wearing underwear and trousers which are too tight. (see the full definition here.)
I can only hope that the band fanny pack will be making a squid beak song soon.
Wonder Woman! Quick! Use your magical lasso to get rid of that squid beak!
Friday, April 13, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
My good friend James alerted me to the cause of the EXTREMELY ENDANGERED Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. My god, I had no idea that such an amazing creature existed, much less that it was endangered. (although now that I think of it, my grandmother DID have one of those octopus hats that were all the rage way back then. It looks like a weird piece of beef jerky now, though.)
One of the trickiest things about preserving the already low populations of Pacific Tree Octopuses is that Sasquatch apparently enjoys snacking on them. How can we save the tree octopuses and preserve the cultural balance? I suggest hybridizing fraternity members with sasquatches, and then feeding the offspring to giant squid as a start.
Here is my favorite suggestion from the PNW octopus site on how you, the average citizen, can show your support for our forested, tentacled friends: "Participate in tree octopus awareness marches. You can demonstrate their plight during the march by having your friends dress up as tree octopuses while you attack them in a lumber jack costume."
Since I like to dress up in a lumber jack costume and attack people any way, this won't really be much different from my daily routine. Except now I have a reason to do it. So my therapist can put that in her pipe and smoke it.
Good luck saving those PNW Octopuses, everyone. They need you. And a latte, stat.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Here are some more images of the calamari wrestling. I would give my left kidney to try on the calamari costume. Or my roommate's left kidney.
"Well, my strengths are that I'm good at multi-tasking. I suppose my only weakness, if you can call it that, is my need to WRESTLE ALL THE TIME."
Do you doubt the cuteness of the calamari?
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
It was only a matter of time before I searched the phrase "octopus wrestling," and here is what came up. Basically, people in the northwestern US wrestled octopuses. And then they (definitely the people, maybe the octopuses) got matching buzz cuts and celebrated. So many questions: why were the octopuses in the shallow water for the wrestling? Who thought this would be a good idea? And did the octopuses ever win?
It basically defies all rational thought.
But, wait there is more:
Reel.com gives the following synopsis: Much talked-about action comedy about a young woman who falls for a giant squid who also happens to be a championship wrestler. Things go out of control when a giant octopus and lobster scheme to take over the championship for themselves.
And guess what else? It is from 2004. I have to get my hands/tentacles/swimmerettes on this, stat.
UPDATE: this film is now on the top of my netflix queue (is that okay with you, Constance?). More to follow.
NOTE: There is actually a lot of weird Japanese game show octopus wrestling stuff online. It makes me sad so I'm not showing it. I'd rather just pull the wings of flies, or microwave lizards, myself.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Friday, April 6, 2007
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
My roommate and I were lucky enough to see this film from 1955. A brief synopsis: Radioactive octopus attacks atomic powered submarine. Sassy female marine biologist and extra-manly naval captain battle said octopus to save San Francisco. Love complications and looming tentacles both arise repeatedly.
The following clip shows the biologists trying to explain to some navy guys what makes cephalopods so great (I know it is wrong to infringe on copyrights. but I also know it would be wrong to keep this scene a secret.):
Here is a picture of the formidable octopus. He kind of looks like a giant, angry, brownie being extruded through a play-do spaghetti maker:
If you are having a bad day, I recommend picturing this angry cephalopod (who even for a ceph, has a rather large head, which may be why he is extra cranky) attacking everyone who annoys you.
However, I also like to picture him trying to make copies, or pondering which 401K to invest in.
Monday, April 2, 2007
The book "Kingdom of the Octopus" by F. Lane (1957) just gives and gives. In the chapter "Locomotion," there are some incidents of octopuses walking around that are great.
"L.R. Brightwell tells me that at the Marine Biological Station at Plymouth he once met an octopus walking downstairs at 2:30 in the morning. It had come from the laboratory... An even more surprising encounter with a perambulating octopus occurred while Brightwell was on a Channel trawler. The fishermen caught a small octopus and left it on the deck. It walked down the companionway to the cabin and two hours later was found in the teapot!"
I have to say, I like the story about meeting the octopus on the stairs in the wee hours the best. I picture the following conversation between BRIGHTWELL and the OCTOPUS:
BRIGHTWELL (groggy from excess drinking and researching) [author's note, I am merely speculating here, but why else would he be up so late?]: "Hey."
BRIGHTWELL: "Isn't it past your bedtime?"
OCTOPUS: [belligerent] "SQUISH!"
BRIGHTWELL: "Fine, it's your life. There's some beer and herring in the fridge if you want. Remember we have to get up early in the morning. We're doing a bunch of experiments where we squeeze you through unbelievably small holes in your tank."
BRIGHTWELL and OCTOPUS squeeze past each other uncomfortably in the stair well. OCTOPUS heads to fridge for snack. BRIGHTWELL passes out. OCTOPUS and BRIGHTWELL wake up in each other's arms in the morning, both smelling of herring and beer.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Perhaps it is because Ikea is from Sweden, and sometimes giant squid wash up on shore in those northern parts that they feel compelled to make cephalopod themed items. And perhaps I would be more amenable to these items IF I HAD NOT SPENT TWO HOURS TODAY PUTTING TOGETHER A LAUNDRY HAMPER I BOUGHT AT IKEA. No, I'm sure that has nothing to do with it.
The first offender:
Please note the number of tentacles. Perhaps the other four were lost at sea, or in an attempt to assemble something with a terrible, teeny, tiny, ineffective allan wrench.
And then this:
I find this product more troubling because when I saw it at the ikea store, I kind of wanted it. And then I wondered what was wrong with me that I wanted to purchase any and all cephalopod related products. This one is apparently for hanging up one's socks to dry in the laundry room. The clips are sort of shoddy, which is why I did not impulsively buy it. (and the fact that I had been in ikea for an hour by then and my soul was DEAD.) But you could probably hang your dried cuttlefish from it in a pinch.