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Sep 26 2012

An idol…tarnished!

The Vampire Squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis has the most bad-ass name and has the coolest, creepiest appearance of all the cephalopods — who doesn’t see it and think Halloween? But it’s a little known fact that it actually drifts in deep and nearly anoxic layers of the ocean, surviving by maintaining a very low metabolism, and from what I’ve heard has a soft, flaccid, jelly-like texture (which actually fits with a vampire: have you ever noticed how people in the movies can easily punch crude wooden stakes right into their hearts?)

But now, further disillusionment from an analysis of their diet. It turns out that the vampire squid literally eats shit to live.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis – literally the "vampire squid from hell" – has a pair of thin, retractable filaments. It uses them like a fishing line, letting them drift and collect bits of waste. Wiping the filaments across its arms, the squid combines the waste with mucus secreted from its suckers to form balls of food, which it gobbles up.

Next they’re going to tell me it doesn’t even sparkle. <throws self on bed, weeps into pillow>

39 comments

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  1. 1
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    If it is any consolation, the Vampire Squid will still stare at you while you’re sleeping?

  2. 2
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Next they’re going to tell me it doesn’t even sparkle. <throws self on bed, weeps into pillow>

    …while vampire squid silently watches form the corner of the room.

  3. 3
    Rip Steakface

    Vampire squid from hell would make for an *awesome* boss in a video game. Mind you, they’d make it gigantic and supernatural, but it’s a video game, who cares?

  4. 4
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Damn you, Joe! *shakes fist*

  5. 5
    hyperdeath

    …have you ever noticed how people in the movies can easily punch crude wooden stakes right into their hearts?

    If the redshirt villains from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are anything to go by, bumping into a convex wooden object is lethal.

  6. 6
    Amphiox

    re @5;

    Splinters.

    Sunnydale carpentry standards being corrupted by the Hellmouth and all.

  7. 7
    Sastra

    But now, further disillusionment from an analysis of their diet. It turns out that the vampire squid literally eats shit to live.

    No, no, no — this is a feature, not a bug.

  8. 8
    jose

    Waste with mucus. Mmmm, now I’m hungry.

  9. 9
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought
    But now, further disillusionment from an analysis of their diet. It turns out that the vampire squid literally eats shit to live.

    No, no, no — this is a feature, not a bug.

    Yeah, when someone tells vampire squid to eat shit and die, vampire squid just laughs.

  10. 10
    birgerjohansson

    “Revealed: Secrets of the Squid from Hell” http://phys.org/news/2012-09-revealed-secrets-squid-hell.html Corpse-eaters? That sounds more like it. A cephalopod ghoul
    — — — — —
    More scavenger news: “Urban coyotes never stray: New study finds 100 percent monogamy” http://phys.org/news/2012-09-urban-coyotes-stray-percent-monogamy.html
    But aren’t big cities supposed to be dens of sin?

  11. 11
    donny5

    Just learned a cool new word: “anoxic”. Yeah, baby.

    Kind of like when Rush Limbaugh enters the room and you fight to breathe because all the oxogen has fled in fear.

  12. 12
    slowdjinn

    “Kind of like when Rush Limbaugh enters the room and you fight to breathe because all the oxygen has fled in feardisgust.”

    FTFY

  13. 13
    davidw

    You missed the chance to teach the word “coprophagous”!

  14. 14
    Hurin

    … to swim in idle water, and drink other fishes piss.

    /Bauhaus

    Sorry. Loose associations.

  15. 15
    Glen Davidson

    What else would there be to eat in hell, its origin?

    Souls don’t have calories, you know.

    Glen Davidson

  16. 16
    marcus

    There, there, don’t be sad. We’ll always have the awesome mimic octopus.

  17. 17
    earlycuyler

    So now I have to change the wordpress avatar I’ve had for the last 2 years? I think not. I’ll just be known as a shit eating jelly belly.

  18. 18
    Pyra

    WOW! That is a beautiful beast. It serves its own purpose, regardless of our disgust because we should not and would perish if we did the same. I still like it. Not tarnished at all.

  19. 19
    Anthony K

    That learning that a favoured organism is a detritivore rather than a carnivore should somehow tarnish its reputation is a curious stance for a biologist to take, but not surprising, given the cultural investment we’ve made in the myth of “Man the Hunter

  20. 20
    pipenta

    @Pyra, not purpose but niche!

  21. 21
    Glen Davidson

    Turns out that, before the Fall, vampire bats flew at night to, and ate shit from, Adam’s and Eve’s butts.

    Mutualism, you know. No toilet paper in Eden.

    Glen Davidson

  22. 22
    Gregory Greenwood

    which actually fits with a vampire: have you ever noticed how people in the movies can easily punch crude wooden stakes right into their hearts?

    At least in some of the older (and particularly in the pre-Buffy era) vampire stories the protagonist(s) would actually have to hammer the stake into the chest of the ‘living impaired’ party in question.

    Apparently, they just don’t make vampires like they used to. Then again, I don’t suppose that this comes as much of a surprise to horror fans, things being as they are with moody, love-sick teenagers and sparkly undead…

  23. 23
    chigau (違う)

    What do shit-eaters shit and what eats their shit?
    Does this go all the way down…

  24. 24
    cicely

    Vampire squid from hell would make for an *awesome* boss in a video game.

    Pretty damned awesome in tabletop, too…at least, by the time I was done with it!

    Mind you, they’d make it gigantic and supernatural,

    Hell yes!

    but it’s a video game, who cares?

    1) FRPG, and
    2) the players cared. With great intensity, and a general sense of “Oh, shit!

    *cackling gleefully*
    -

  25. 25
    leahdoner

    I’m pretty sure “Twilight” fans swallow shit to survive too.

  26. 26
    NitricAcid

    When Rush enters the room, the Oxy goes somewhere else…

  27. 27
    Artor

    Vampire Squid don’t care. He doesn’t give a shit, because he’s not done with it yet. Look at That! Vampire Squid is nasty!!!

  28. 28
    sparks

    I’ve been cordially invited to eat shit and die on a number of occasions. Now I can haz a number of witty retorts involving Vampire Squid From Hell.

  29. 29
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Next they’re going to tell me it doesn’t even sparkle. <throws self on bed, weeps into pillow>

    Well played, Old Man!

  30. 30
    Amphiox

    This thing lives in a deeper darkness devoid of breath, and a rain of toxic waste only makes it grow stronger.

    It’s all a matter of perspective.

  31. 31
    BrianX

    Isn’t that what everything that’s not a predator or vent dweller eats down there?

  32. 32
    w00dview

    I agree with Brownian, I think this makes the vampire squid cooler in a way, having it’s own specialised niche separate from the other predatory cephalopods. Reminds me of Bagheera kiplingi the only spider that has evolved herbivory (that has been found so far anyway). Another example where a member of a predominantly predatory clade evolves into weird and unexpected ecological niches.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagheera_kiplingi

  33. 33
    Amphiox

    Since the Vampire Squid is, IIRC, a relic member of the stem clade that gave rise to octopi, squid and cuttlefish, it is interesting to wonder if its detritivory is derived or actually primitive to the group.

  34. 34
    Merrily Dancing Ape

    #23. What do shit-eaters shit and what eats their shit? Does this go all the way down…

    Woa. You just blew my mind.

    Doesn’t the existence of shit-eaters imply that shit must have existed first? Otherwise they would have had nothing to eat! And that leads inevitably to the next question. Who shat that first shit?

    The only plausible answer is, of course, Jesus.

  35. 35
    John Phillips, FCD

    You people crease me, this is the best thread ever.

  36. 36
    Gregory Greenwood

    Merrily Dancing Ape @ 34;

    Oh, I’m so stealing that – the perfect counter to all the gits who turn up here prattling on about ‘irreducible complexity’.

  37. 37
    cicely

    And that leads inevitably to the next question. Who shat that first shit?

    Shit happens; and who ya gonna call?
    -

  38. 38
    Amphiox

    #23. What do shit-eaters shit and what eats their shit? Does this go all the way down…

    Down to the sea floor, where it piles up. Layers upon layers of shit.

    And some of it gets turned into limestones and shales.

    And some of that gets metamorphosed into marbles and slates.

    Which humans later dig up and carve into funny shapes.

    To worship as gods.

  39. 39
    ralfmuschall

    There’s still hope: Section 3b (p. 4, right column) says “… several food items were held together by mucus, in which red cells were incorporated” (don’t read p. 5, it will spoil the fun.)

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