Squidsuckers: The Little Monsters That Feed the Beast
Credit: Jessica D. Schiffman and Caroline L. Schauer, Drexel University
Crunch. The satisfying sound of a crushed cockroach comes from the destruction of its chitin-based exoskeleton. The white, fanglike circles in this electron micrograph of squid suckers are also chitin, but they are not so easily crushed. Their scant 400-micrometer diameter belies the true power of the suckers. A squid uses them to latch onto prey and force the unfortunate creature to its beak, where it is readily slurped down. “They’re just tiny things, but they really keep the beast alive,” says Jessica Schiffman, a doctoral student in material science engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She compiled the image while researching chitin properties in the lab of Caroline Schauer. The iconic film Little Shop of Horrors inspired the color scheme, she says.