National Geographic News has obtained footage from a Shell oil company ROV (remotely operated vehicle) in the Gulf of Mexico of a Magnapinna squid. The Magnapinna squid sighting is rare and only one specimen has ever been captured (not alive), but this particular Magnapinna squid is getting special attention. This squid has elbows.
The Magnapinna is a strange-looking creature, more like an alien than anything terrestrial, but the kinks — the ‘elbows’ — in the tentacles, which radiate from the thin body, make it unique. Some scientists believe that this physiological attribute helps the squid drag the ocean floor for food. Others think that the squid may hunt in a more stationary position, allowing prey to wander into the “curtain” of tentacles.
The clip shows only a few seconds of jerky footage that resembles the amateurish work of a frightened cameraman in a bad science fiction movie. But what the video captures is not an alien, nor is it science fiction. The long flowing tentacles, the elbows, and the large, undulating shovel-shaped upper area come together to form an alien entity that can only be described as a manta ray towing a spider. Strange, a bit bizarre even, but very terrestrial.
The Magnapinna squid was first discovered ten years ago by squid biologist Michael Vecchione of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and University of Hawaii biologist Richard Young and documented in a report in the December 21, 2001, issue of Science magazine (it had been seen before but not never documented). Besides its most distinguishing feature of the large thin dual fins – thus its name Magnapinna or “large fin” – the squid has ten tentacles instead of the more common eight of other known squid species. In fact, the Magnapinna was so different, Vecchione and Young created a new family category for it, Magnapinnidae.
These particular deep sea squid have been spotted in all the world’s oceans. To date, there have been four different species catalogued. Scientists estimate that the various species grow from 5 feet in length to 23, but the scarcity of test specimens of varying ages makes it difficult to do so with certainty.
The latest video clip was shot on November 11 but wasn’t seen until days later by National Geographic when it arrived via e-mail after being passed around from inbox to inbox. The clip was shot at the Shell Oil Perdido deep sea drilling site, which is located about 200 miles from Houston, Texas. The site is about a mile and a half underwater.
The sighting of the alien- looking squid comes just days after a flurry of activity around the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier, a species that scientists had thought was extinct.
Physical anthropologist Sharon Gursky-Doyen of Texas A&M announced to the world that her mission of establishing that the tiny nocturnal creature was extinct had failed and that the pygmy tarsier was indeed still very much extant. She and her team, after roaming the mountains of Sulawesi island in Indonesia, became the first humans to see a pygmy tarsier alive in eight decades, reported Scientific American. Gursky-Doyen says the experience was “euphoric” but that she shook so much that she could barely handle the tiny creature.
Pygmy tarsier’s are big-eyed insect eaters that resemble the extremely popular electronic toy produced and marketed by Tiger Co. at the turn of the millennium. The “furby” itself was patterned after the “mogwai,” which was the fictional baby form of a gremlin (and stays that way until fed after midnight) in the Steven Spielberg classic, “Gremlins.” The pygmy tarsier can rotate their heads 180 degrees and hand tiny human-like hands.
And the discoveries don’t stop there. The smallest snake known was documented in August by Blair Hedges, an evolutionary biologist at Pennsylvania State University, who has catalogued 65 new species of animals in his studies over the course of his career. Leptotyphlops carlae averages just 4 inches in length and can fit easily coiled on a U. S. quarter (coin).
Zootaxa at mapress.com