I wanna go to Seattle tomorrow!

The Burke Museum is having some opening day festivities for their new exhibit, In Search of Giant Squid. They’re having a public squid dissection, cephalopod poetry and art (not by, I don’t think, but about) and various other entertaining and educational opportunities.

True Pharyngula phans in the Seattle area will be there. I wish I could be.


  1. says

    True Pharyngula phans in the Seattle area will be there.

    If my plane to Cincinnati weren’t leaving at 0-dark-:30 that morning, I would be, too :P :P.

  2. D. Sidhe says

    I’ve been planning to give it a shot, but thus far have had little luck persuading my partner, who is not enchanted with squid for some weird reason. I should get there before December, at any rate, but the dissection is going to be a hard sell.

  3. says

    I asked Mr. thalarctos if, in my absence, he’d go and live-blog the squid dissection in my stead, and he answered “Are you kidding me?”.

    I’m going to take that as a “no”.

  4. says

    Why not have a calamari feast along with the dissection? My dad tells these stories of a group of neurologists who had to cut up lots of squid to get access to their large neurons for use in their research. What did they do with the remaining squid? Fry it up on some Bunsen burners on Friday nights for dinner, of course!

  5. Eric TF Bat says

    I glanced at this article in my RSS reader and read it as “The Burke Museum is having some openly gay festivities”. Don’t know why. Just thought I’d share.

    (Hmmm… the evolution of homosexuality in cephalopods. Is there a PhD in that, do you think?)

  6. says

    I’m taking my two-year old. He told me tonight that squid don’t nibble on seaweed with their beaks, they nibble on fish. And we can look at their tentacles, he added.

    This is the boy who climbs into my lap and asks to see octopus videos (thanks PZ, for providing family evening entertainment).

    Plus, the Burke curators have promised to help me clean my femur with their beetles. It’s a full-service museum.

  7. says

    And a pleasant exhibit it turned out to be, though small and lacking in hands-on materials.

    Professor Alan Kohn gave a short presentation then answered questions for a very long time about the physiology, biochemistry, ecology, behavior, and physics of squid. It was an impressive display of the depth of knowledge a professional can accumulate in a lifetime of study. He, of course, presented himself as not a cephalopod expert (being a Conus researcher), and carefully delineated knowledge from speculation, particularly about the less well known species of squid.

    One of the interesting points he kept making was the evolutionary trade-offs molluscs (and humans) have made. Lose your shell, gain mobility at the cost of defense. Grow a big brain, have trouble with your esophagus running through the middle of it (squid have to eat in small bites to pass the food through the middle of their brains), or being too close to your trachea (e.g. in humans needing Heimlichs). He emphasized the ad hoc nature of evolutionary change and the surprisingly less than optimal body plans and chemistries it results in. For instance, he pointed out that seawater has approximately 1/4 the available oxygen of air, and squid have a copper-based oxygen transport in their blood that’s 50% less efficient than hemoglobin. Yet other invertebrates have evolved hemoglobin (tube worms, some snails in low oxygen mud environments, etc.). Squid are muscle and nerve, with big brains (for molluscs) and high oxygen needs. Why didn’t they evolve hemoglobin? Contingent chance, nothing more. It would have warmed PZ’s heart to hear Professor Kohn push evolution and selection as the keys to understanding everything about squid.

  8. creeky belly says

    It would have warmed PZ’s heart to hear Professor Kohn push evolution and selection as the keys to understanding everything about squid.
    I chuckled when I asked him about squid vision and he replied that the ‘intelligent designer’ must have wanted the squid to see clearer than humans since ‘he’ put the photoreceptors in front of the retina.