Monday, July 30, 2007
This model represents the Vampire Squid (Vampyroteuthis Infernalis literally means vampire squid from hell), a creature that lives in tropical/sub-tropical oceans from 700-3,500m down. The real thing has light organs on its body, eyes and tentacles.
- Its eyes - which appear red or blue, also depending on lighting - are proportionately the largest in the animal kingdom at 1 inch in diameter and detect even the faintest of gleams. There are also a pair of photoreceptors located on top of its head.
- The squid is covered entirely in light-producing organs called photophores.
- The Vampire Squid is an extreme example of a deep-sea cephalopod, thought to reside at lightless depths from 600-900 metres or more. The depths the squid lives at are called the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) where oxygen saturation is too low to support most creatures. Nonetheless, the Vampire Squid is able to live and breathe normally in the OMZ at oxygen saturations as low as 3%; a feat no other cephalopod - and few other animals - can claim.
- They have the lowest metabolic rate amongst their kind.
- Their copper-based blue blood transports oxygen more efficiently than in other cephalopods, aided by gills with especially large surface area.
- The animals have weak musculature but maintain agility and buoyancy with little effort thanks to sophisticated statocysts and ammonium-rich gelatinous tissues closely matching the density of the surrounding seawater.
- At the shallower end of the squid's vertical range, the highly sensitive eyes of deepwater denizens are able to distinguish the silhouettes of other animals moving overhead in the twilight gloom. The squid generates its own bluish light to blur its silhouette, effectively "cloaking" its presence from the watchful eyes below.
- Like other deep-sea cephalopods, the Vampire Squid lack ink sacs. If threatened, instead of ink, a sticky cloud of bioluminescent mucus containing innumerable orbs of blue light is ejected from the arm tips.
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