Friday Cephalopod: The vampire winks

Vampyroteuthis gazes at you with its terrible ancient eye…


Close it, please, for the love of heaven, close it!

Vampyrotheuthis infernalis

JEBUS! It’s got a sphincter for an eye! OPEN IT AGAIN! OPEN IT AGAIN!

Figure from The Deep(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Claire Nouvian.


  1. Thrawn says

    Look at the reflection! It looks like it’s staring into the depths beyond time and space.

  2. MarcusA says

    There once was a squid named BILL
    Who really loved to hunt and to KILL

    He searched each night for his favorite FOOD
    It truly put him in the perfect MOOD

    In fact, when he ate those who say CREATION
    From the other squid he’d get a standing OVATION

    There once was a squid named BILL
    Of religion, he got his daily FILL

    His eyes were as blue as a moon-lit NIGHT
    And his most deadly feature was his atheist BITE

    But Bill the squid took life pretty EZ
    In fact, he loved to read his early morning PZ

  3. John Phillips says

    WOW, that eye looks like a sapphire. I must admit that I have always found the cephalopods interesting but no more so than many others. However, I now look forward to the Friday cephalopod with eager anticipation to see what jewel you will present us and I have to say that they just get better and better.

  4. Man of Science says

    Am I the only one who noticed that ‘for the love of heaven’ was included in the original post? Does atheism take a holiday when cephalopods are mentioned?

    Awesome creature!

  5. sailor says

    Any one else see the scuba diver’s reflection bottom left of the first eye picture? It seems unlikely as this was more likely taken in an Aquarium or some such.

  6. The Mad Patriot says

    I’m glad I’m seeing this in the morning. Looking at that before going to sleep would NOT be good.

  7. The Mad Patriot says

    Incidentally, it would be cool if someone who is good with morphing software made an animation from those two images.

  8. protobiochemist says

    Really cool cephalopod!

    Stupid question:

    what do vampire squid feed on, i.e. as a source of blood? Whales? Fish?

    How big is this thing? (feet or meters)


  9. protobiochemist says

    I’m lazy on Friday mornings….

    The internet tells me it’s about 13 cm long (approx. 1/2 a foot for the rest of you),

    and from Wiki: “Copepods, prawns and cnidarians have all been reported as prey of Vampire Squid”.

    I promise never to site Wiki again…..lazy Fridays…


  10. says

    I am a horrible nerd: when I saw what PZ wrote under the second photo, my thoughts turned to Star Wars:



    That reflection in the eye, therefore, isn’t a scuba diver, it’s a droid.

  11. Phy says

    #16 – There may indeed be atheists in foxholes, but never when confronted with sphincter-eyed, submarine, widdle-in-your-wetsuit horrors.

    Or maybe PZ’s suffering SAN loss like #10 suggested?

  12. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Are you flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? Then who the hell else are you flirtin’ with?

  13. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Are you flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? Then who the hell else are you flirtin’ with?

  14. sailor says

    “It’s got a sphincter for an eye”
    PZ Clearly, you have been dealing with way too many arseholes on your blog recently.

  15. M says

    That is at once one of the most beautiful things and the most heeby-jeeby-what-the-hell-IS-that-thing horrors I’ve ever seen.

  16. Will Von Wizzlepig says

    It’s really neat how you can just make out the diver (?) in its eye in the first photo.

    Pretty pictures! Where did you find them online?

  17. says

    I didn’t find them online! There are these amazing things called “books” that contain huge amounts of quality information, more and better stuff than you’ll usually find on the web. I recommend them as a source to all bloggers.

  18. says

    Pfft. “Books”. What are you, Amish? No one reads books anymore.

    You’re probably still eatin’ “food” and breathin’ “air” too, PZ.

    Uh, like, welcome to the 21st century, people.

  19. Squiddhartha says

    PZ’s commentary reminds me of nothing more than Yosemite Sam, as the Black Knight, shouting at Bugs Bunny in the castle: “Open that drawbridge! Open, I say!” (Drawbridge slams open, crushing Sam into a tin can) (Muffled:) “Close it! Close it! Close it up again!”

    Except, you know, in reverse.

  20. says

    From the sound of it, I’m kind of glad that the site was blocked for me by work…

    This from one of the commenters at Barry’s site. He can to Dave Barry, but Pharyngula is blocked?

  21. Ann says

    Wow, suddenly all that anti-wrinkle eye cream I’ve been using seems like money well spent.

  22. SEF says

    No, like itself – just the look of its surface and details.

    I do have a MIB Cthulhu though – and a Nyarlathotep (which is cuter). Unfortunately the pair of plush octopus toys I got a while back (and only opened the other day) turned out to have smiles stitched onto the back of their mantles instead of having beaks in the proper place. I had to explain to the sproglets how they weren’t anatomically accurate.

  23. slang says

    Books? BOOKS? Those things that look like a bunch of blog posts printed and glued together?

  24. Brian Macker says

    Cool, only problem now that you’ve published this is that some of those body modification freaks are going to take this idea and run with it. Show some social responsibility, Please!

  25. Just Al says

    See, atheists can be smug about getting off lines like that because we know we won’t burn in hell for them…

    Anyway, Arbyn, here’s a different version animated. Needs an appropriate sound effect, squeegee or balloon animal kinda thing, but MS Gif Animator doesn’t offer that option.

    And another, what I imagine actually happened.

  26. Edgar says


    Are common the circular-closing eyelids on cephalopods?
    I guessed they haven´t any at all……

  27. DustPuppyOI says

    That youtube video was cool! The sphincter is part of the animal’s defense mechanism (providing the illusion of escaping the predator). Even cooler is that upon contact with a potential predator, the octopus releases glowing particles. Ummm… could those be precursors to star spawn?

    Ia Ia Cthulhu Ftaghn!

  28. yoyo says

    I think it’s cool that both PZ and Schnier on security are into cephalopods. Schnier had a great sculpture robot of a squid recently. Mind you he also had a recipe for squid. Is this squid really that colour tho’ or has it been enhanced?