Friday cephalopod: Moroteuthis robusta

Moroteuthis robusta

Figure from Cephalopods: A World Guide (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Mark Norman.


  1. #1 BigCat
    February 24, 2006


    Is that to scale?

    Where can I get one for my fish tank?

  2. #2 PhD13
    February 24, 2006

    might not be quite to scale, but they have a reported mantle size of up to 2 meters (6-6). not as cool as humbold squid though.

  3. #3 D. Sidhe
    February 24, 2006

    I dunno. One of my personal favorites. They had a preserved one at the Seattle Aquarium a while back. Nine feet long, IIRC. Neat, in a dead and slimy, somewhat decomposed sort of way.

  4. #4 Rocky
    February 24, 2006

    Squiddy looks limp and on his last, (ahem), leg…..

  5. #5 Dave Munger
    February 24, 2006

    How does this thing compare in size to the famed “giant squid”?

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    February 24, 2006

    Yeah, Moroteuthis are usually deep-water pelagic animals — they only drift into shallows where divers can meet up with them when they’re sick or dying.

  7. #7 JTS
    February 24, 2006

    Holy freakin’ crap! Excellent find this week.

  8. #8 Todd
    February 24, 2006

    Hey, PZ. Speaking of sea monsters. As soon as I dig my way through a couple more books, I’m going to have my friendly neighborhood bookseller bring in some Lovecraft (and Mieville, even more tangentially), largely on the recommendation of yourself and the folks at Crooked Timber. Would you have a suggestion of a particularly good place to start with either author?

  9. #9 Haploteuthis ferox
    February 24, 2006

    Hey PZ, speaking of fiction, have you looked up H.G. Well’s “The Sea Raiders” yet?

  10. #10 Haploteuthis ferox
    February 24, 2006

    Found it online….

    Yeah, and that should have been “Wells'”.

  11. #11 Haploteuthis ferox
    February 24, 2006


    I think this is a good starting point…
    “Dreams of Terror and Death”

    Plus the cover always freaked out my kids.

  12. #12 Love Craft Fan
    February 24, 2006

    Hey Todd, Also try “Dreamquest for Unknown Kadath” and “At the Mountains of Maddness”

  13. #13 Will E.
    February 24, 2006

    If you want squid-horror, you can’t go wrong with “The Call of Cthulhu.” That’s certainly what I thought of just looking at the above pic.

  14. #14 CCP
    February 24, 2006

    nice bauplan on that mollusk

  15. #15 ParanoidMarvin
    February 24, 2006

    With Mieville, you can either start with his first book “King Rat” which is a good first novel. If you want to start with his Bas Lag setting, start at the beginning with “Perdido St. Station”, then go on to “The Scar”.

  16. #16 Xavier
    February 24, 2006

    Ho. Ly. Crap. That is quite frightening.

  17. #17 Socialist Swine
    February 24, 2006

    Is it strange that every time I see pictures of large squid it makes me think of big giant calamari rings? I wonder if a squid that size would be tasty….

  18. #18 Steff Z
    February 24, 2006

    It’s the end of Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium.
    I posted about it under “Octopus Sex,” but it was an old thread so nobody saw it. (Go look if you want links to a news story or the aquarium.)

    Tomorrow (Saturday) at noon they’ll release the male who is, we hope, the daddy of a bunch of soon-to-be-laid octopod eggs.

    Mikala will stay to, one hopes, tend the little darlings.

    I have a volunteer training session there tomorrow — Plankton, Inverts, Jellies and Octopods — and I bet we trainees get to watch. And learn.

    I’ll let you all know about the presence or absence of the octobabes as soon as I find out. Wa-hoo!!!

  19. #19 Carpenter
    February 25, 2006

    hey I have a question,
    Does the argonaut really sail with its two crazy arms or does it just hold on to its shell with them?

  20. #20 Steff Z
    February 26, 2006

    OK, I went to the Aquarium, and observed and asked and learned.

    Here is the Octopus Report.
    Mikala and Lancelot did, in fact, mate on the 14th. One of the spermatophores was still trailing out of her mantle cavity today (it was pretty transparent, so presumably empty by now).

    The two ‘pods are still tank-sharing: the humans haven’t replaced the barrier between tanks. During the first break in volunteer training today (whee! plankton tow!), they were piled up on each other, arms all gnarled together. By the noon octopus release event, M. had wandered off into the (1 m diameter) tube between the two tanks. (That’s when I saw the “streamer.”)

    The octo released today was a backup guy, JB, who was starting to senesce. (Gotta have some spare octopuses at all times, right?) The Aq. lets them go so they have a chance, at least, to breed. (There are octopus dens below/around the Aq. pier, so it’s not necessarily wishful thinking and problem-shunting.)
    JB, when released, inked a bit while being convinced to leave the bucket for the open sea (well, Elliott Bay). But then he swam to the bottom (40 ft, around 12 m) among the pilings, then climbed up one a little and perched there. He was, by then, alert but not upset: red, but not splotchy and flashing. (Then we had to go back to “class.”)
    They’ll release Lancelot sometime next week. They *know* he’s spawned, and is not long among us. But even so, he might get to breed again.

    To start our gruelling course of voulnteer training, Dr. Roland Anderson — the fabulous octopus researcher — gave a talk to us newbies about the cephalopods of Puget Sound.
    It was a good talk, full of life-history stories about marvellous organisms, by an expert who clearly loves the critters. Yay! (Also, inside scoop: those 12 roses were icky to clean up, after the smarmy Valentine’s mood-setting stunt. Rose petals. In sea water. For hours. Ewww.)

    Man, those stubby squid (Rossia pacifica) are the best!!!! (They’re closer to cuttlefish than most squid: “sepiolid”.) They burrow under the sediment during the day, sticking their siphons straight up to breathe. That’s a talent most cephs don’t have: inhaling AND exhaling through the siphon, not using mantle-cavity flapping. (I bet they could play digeridoo, too.) (Wait, maybe they already are.)
    And we get a few of the above Moroteuthis washed into the Sound most summers.
    Market squid (Loligo opalescens) breed here each winter; red octos (Octopus rubescens) abound; and of course the Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dolfleini) were, well, giant.

    The red octos on display were hiding mostly (it was daytime). One had been set up in a tank with a maze made of plastic pet-rodent tubing, with glass “rocks” on the bottom. That little ‘pod squeezed itself into one of the small “nest” segments of the tubing, with just its eyes and siphon sticking up. OMG it was soooooooo cute!!!1!! Good view of the arms and suction cups, too. It had also moved some of the glass pebbles into the maze next to the nest. Most, next to one opening, few next to the other: ? dead-end burrows are more comfy? The octo probably weighed around 50-70 g, and the glass bits were the size of large marbles, had to be 20 g. That took work.

    I’ll keep posting updates about egglaying and development. Doubtless PZ will provide a sufficiently current cephalopod thread at all times.

  21. #21 Alexander Whiteside
    February 26, 2006

    Surely I’m not the only one who’s noticed it’s a giant, tentacled phallus?

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