Friday Cephalopod: The vampire winks

Vampyroteuthis gazes at you with its terrible ancient eye…


Close it, please, for the love of heaven, close it!

Vampyrotheuthis infernalis

JEBUS! It’s got a sphincter for an eye! OPEN IT AGAIN! OPEN IT AGAIN!

Figure from The Deep(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Claire Nouvian.


  1. #1 Ezekiel Buchheit
    August 31, 2007

    That’s as close as it gets to matching gaze with Cthulhu and living.

  2. #2 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    It looks like a plush toy (with a veined crystal eye).

  3. #3 C. M. Baxter
    August 31, 2007

    I swear, that looks like Ken Ham winking at his congregation!

  4. #4 C. M. Baxter
    August 31, 2007

    I swear, that looks like Ken Ham winking at his congregation!

  5. #5 C. M. Baxter
    August 31, 2007

    Sorry, I clicked twice:)

  6. #6 Thrawn
    August 31, 2007

    Look at the reflection! It looks like it’s staring into the depths beyond time and space.

  7. #7 MH
    August 31, 2007

    PZ, you have a great sense of humour!

  8. #8 kmiers
    August 31, 2007

    Yes, yes that is a sphincter.

    Way to start my Friday.

  9. #9 dorid
    August 31, 2007

    just… wow.

  10. #10 maybecca
    August 31, 2007

    I can has SAN loss?

  11. #11 OptimusShr
    August 31, 2007

    Holy crap that looks freaky when closed.

  12. #12 MarcusA
    August 31, 2007

    There once was a squid named BILL
    Who really loved to hunt and to KILL

    He searched each night for his favorite FOOD
    It truly put him in the perfect MOOD

    In fact, when he ate those who say CREATION
    From the other squid he’d get a standing OVATION

    There once was a squid named BILL
    Of religion, he got his daily FILL

    His eyes were as blue as a moon-lit NIGHT
    And his most deadly feature was his atheist BITE

    But Bill the squid took life pretty EZ
    In fact, he loved to read his early morning PZ

  13. #13 Daniel
    August 31, 2007


  14. #14 akaoni
    August 31, 2007

    Gotta love the vampire squid from hell!

  15. #15 John Phillips
    August 31, 2007

    WOW, that eye looks like a sapphire. I must admit that I have always found the cephalopods interesting but no more so than many others. However, I now look forward to the Friday cephalopod with eager anticipation to see what jewel you will present us and I have to say that they just get better and better.

  16. #16 Man of Science
    August 31, 2007

    Am I the only one who noticed that ‘for the love of heaven’ was included in the original post? Does atheism take a holiday when cephalopods are mentioned?

    Awesome creature!

  17. #17 sailor
    August 31, 2007

    Any one else see the scuba diver’s reflection bottom left of the first eye picture? It seems unlikely as this was more likely taken in an Aquarium or some such.

  18. #18 The Mad Patriot
    August 31, 2007

    I’m glad I’m seeing this in the morning. Looking at that before going to sleep would NOT be good.

  19. #19 The Mad Patriot
    August 31, 2007

    Incidentally, it would be cool if someone who is good with morphing software made an animation from those two images.

  20. #20 DaveX
    August 31, 2007

    That’s not a scuba diver being reflected in the eye– it’s what’s for dinner!

  21. #21 protobiochemist
    August 31, 2007

    Really cool cephalopod!

    Stupid question:

    what do vampire squid feed on, i.e. as a source of blood? Whales? Fish?

    How big is this thing? (feet or meters)


  22. #22 Chris Gruber, FCD
    August 31, 2007

    This is, without a doubt, for me, one of the funniest commentaries PZ has ever given on this site. I literally LOL’d.

  23. #23 protobiochemist
    August 31, 2007

    I’m lazy on Friday mornings….

    The internet tells me it’s about 13 cm long (approx. 1/2 a foot for the rest of you),

    and from Wiki: “Copepods, prawns and cnidarians have all been reported as prey of Vampire Squid”.

    I promise never to site Wiki again…..lazy Fridays…


  24. #24 Lepht
    August 31, 2007

    and that’s how to shut kids up when you’re babysitting.


  25. #25 TheBrummell
    August 31, 2007

    I am a horrible nerd: when I saw what PZ wrote under the second photo, my thoughts turned to Star Wars:



    That reflection in the eye, therefore, isn’t a scuba diver, it’s a droid.

  26. #26 cubicle charlie
    August 31, 2007

    Exaptation or adaptation?

  27. #27 Melinda Barton
    August 31, 2007

    This has to be the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. There might be some use for you yet.

  28. #28 syslfrog
    August 31, 2007

    Laugh out loud funny! Now It’s just a matter of cleaning up this spill…

  29. #29 Phy
    August 31, 2007

    #16 – There may indeed be atheists in foxholes, but never when confronted with sphincter-eyed, submarine, widdle-in-your-wetsuit horrors.

    Or maybe PZ’s suffering SAN loss like #10 suggested?

  30. #30 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 31, 2007

    Are you flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? Then who the hell else are you flirtin’ with?

  31. #31 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    August 31, 2007

    Are you flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? You flirtin’ with me? Then who the hell else are you flirtin’ with?

  32. #32 sailor
    August 31, 2007

    “It’s got a sphincter for an eye”
    PZ Clearly, you have been dealing with way too many arseholes on your blog recently.

  33. #33 Brownian
    August 31, 2007

    Vampyroteuthis nothing. That there is a Third Stage Guild Navigator.

    He who controls the spice controls the universe!

  34. #34 M
    August 31, 2007

    That is at once one of the most beautiful things and the most heeby-jeeby-what-the-hell-IS-that-thing horrors I’ve ever seen.

  35. #35 Will Von Wizzlepig
    August 31, 2007

    It’s really neat how you can just make out the diver (?) in its eye in the first photo.

    Pretty pictures! Where did you find them online?

  36. #36 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2007

    I didn’t find them online! There are these amazing things called “books” that contain huge amounts of quality information, more and better stuff than you’ll usually find on the web. I recommend them as a source to all bloggers.

  37. #37 Brownian
    August 31, 2007

    Pfft. “Books”. What are you, Amish? No one reads books anymore.

    You’re probably still eatin’ “food” and breathin’ “air” too, PZ.

    Uh, like, welcome to the 21st century, people.

  38. #38 Fer
    August 31, 2007

    Vampyroteuthis infernalis. I like it 🙂

  39. #39 Booger
    August 31, 2007

    Damn. Someone beat me to the obligatory ‘Dune’ reference. Nice job, Brownian.

  40. #40 Squiddhartha
    August 31, 2007

    PZ’s commentary reminds me of nothing more than Yosemite Sam, as the Black Knight, shouting at Bugs Bunny in the castle: “Open that drawbridge! Open, I say!” (Drawbridge slams open, crushing Sam into a tin can) (Muffled:) “Close it! Close it! Close it up again!”

    Except, you know, in reverse.

  41. #41 AemJeff
    August 31, 2007

    From the sound of it, I’m kind of glad that the site was blocked for me by work…

    This from one of the commenters at Barry’s site. He can to Dave Barry, but Pharyngula is blocked?

  42. #42 Rich
    August 31, 2007

    Oh do I love Vampy. Thanks, PZ.

  43. #43 Ann
    August 31, 2007

    Wow, suddenly all that anti-wrinkle eye cream I’ve been using seems like money well spent.

  44. #44 AaronInSanDiego
    August 31, 2007

    It looks like a plush toy

    You mean like this plush toy?

  45. #45 AaronInSanDiego
    August 31, 2007
  46. #46 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    No, like itself – just the look of its surface and details.

    I do have a MIB Cthulhu though – and a Nyarlathotep (which is cuter). Unfortunately the pair of plush octopus toys I got a while back (and only opened the other day) turned out to have smiles stitched onto the back of their mantles instead of having beaks in the proper place. I had to explain to the sproglets how they weren’t anatomically accurate.

  47. #47 slang
    August 31, 2007

    Books? BOOKS? Those things that look like a bunch of blog posts printed and glued together?

  48. #48 subcorpus
    August 31, 2007

    i dont think this is real …

  49. #49 arbyn
    August 31, 2007

    I made an animated gif on slick link to see.

  50. #50 baldwithglasses
    September 1, 2007

    PZ, I just came across your blog and now, my friend, you are my new hero.

  51. #51 Hank
    September 1, 2007

    A veritable cephalolpod.

  52. #52 Brian Macker
    September 1, 2007

    Cool, only problem now that you’ve published this is that some of those body modification freaks are going to take this idea and run with it. Show some social responsibility, Please!

  53. #53 Brian Macker
    September 1, 2007

    Here’s a youtube video on the creature.

  54. #54 Just Al
    September 1, 2007

    Well, at least the eye isn’t brown

  55. #55 Just Al
    September 1, 2007

    See, atheists can be smug about getting off lines like that because we know we won’t burn in hell for them…

    Anyway, Arbyn, here’s a different version animated. Needs an appropriate sound effect, squeegee or balloon animal kinda thing, but MS Gif Animator doesn’t offer that option.

    And another, what I imagine actually happened.

  56. #56 Rich
    September 1, 2007

    @ Brian Macker, thanks for that vid. Great stuff.

  57. #57 Edgar
    September 1, 2007


    Are common the circular-closing eyelids on cephalopods?
    I guessed they haven´t any at all……

  58. #58 scj
    September 1, 2007

    Actually, the human iris contains a sphincter aswell.

  59. #59 SEF
    September 2, 2007

    Yes, but humans have the decency to keep it on the inside. 😉

  60. #60 DustPuppyOI
    September 8, 2007

    That youtube video was cool! The sphincter is part of the animal’s defense mechanism (providing the illusion of escaping the predator). Even cooler is that upon contact with a potential predator, the octopus releases glowing particles. Ummm… could those be precursors to star spawn?

    Ia Ia Cthulhu Ftaghn!

  61. #61 yoyo
    September 9, 2007

    I think it’s cool that both PZ and Schnier on security are into cephalopods. Schnier had a great sculpture robot of a squid recently. Mind you he also had a recipe for squid. Is this squid really that colour tho’ or has it been enhanced?

  62. #62 natalief
    September 11, 2007
  63. #63 Freak1ta
    September 20, 2007

    OK, I’ll get banned for this but…

    “reverse goatse!”

  64. #64 Nicole
    February 5, 2008

    I love my Elder God overlords!

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