Squid suckers

This photo won an honorable mention in the Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. They were robbed! Grand prize or they’ll rip the judges’ faces off!

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.


  1. #1 speedwell
    September 28, 2008

    They look like they were knitted in green, white, and burgundy yarn, with papoer-mache teeth. Maybe Miss Skatje could help you with a model. heh.

  2. #2 Dust
    September 28, 2008

    Audrey III?

  3. #3 Sili
    September 28, 2008

    I still say Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

  4. #4 pablo
    September 28, 2008

    There’s kind of a “when muppets turn on their masters” quality about them.

  5. #5 Brad D
    September 28, 2008

    Cthulhu fhtagn!

  6. #6 whoneedscience
    September 28, 2008

    Am I the only one thinking “Don’t Panic!”?

  7. #7 Nick Gotts
    September 28, 2008

    Remind me never to get eaten by a squid.

  8. #8 Crudely Wrott
    September 28, 2008

    Wow. Imagine having the inside of your arms lined with Langoliers!

    “You cannot escape my embrace, my tender morsel. Never!”

  9. #9 Patricia
    September 28, 2008

    What?! I thought that was a photo of the Molly winners.


  10. #10 Tor A H
    September 28, 2008

    Hehe. They’re hilarious.

    Nom nom nom nom

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2008

    What?! I thought that was a photo of the Molly winners.

    naw, like I said before, I have more rows of teeth than that.

  12. #12 mermaid
    September 28, 2008
  13. #13 CMurdock
    September 28, 2008

    Two comments saying they look like Cthulhu? Do you even know what Cthulhu’s supposed to look like??? NOTHING like this.

  14. #14 Sili
    September 28, 2008
  15. #15 Sili
    September 28, 2008


    Choose wisely. Vote early, vote often. I! I! F’tagn!

  16. #16 James F
    September 28, 2008


    It’s totally The Langoliers.

  17. #17 Sven DiMilo
    September 28, 2008

    False-colored SE micrographs like this piss me off. Once you start making decisions about a “color scheme” it doesn’t count as science any more, in my book.

  18. #18 amphiox
    September 28, 2008

    Don’t be such a curmudgeon, Sven.

    If the color scheme was intended to help analyze or convey information, then it might be science. If it was intended to please the eye, then it is art.

    This is art. Based on science. What’s wrong with that?

  19. #19 SC
    September 28, 2008

    Did anyone notice the “Visualizing The Bible” honorable mention in the Illustration category? What does that have to do with visualizing science?

  20. #20 Left_Wing_Fox
    September 28, 2008

    Resembles a swarm of Isz from The Maxx.

  21. #21 Skeeve
    September 28, 2008

    Hey I saw that picture a few days ago and my first thought was to send you the link, but after never hearing back from you on the last pic I sent or seeing it here I figured you’d never see the email anyway. You need a super secret atheist email addy.

  22. #22 Prof. Bleen
    September 29, 2008

    Look out–it’s El Chupacalamares! Oh, wait: the squid is administering the sucking, in this case, and is not the victim of it.

  23. #23 Sleeping at the Console
    September 29, 2008

    That’s just an awesome picture. Thanks!

  24. #24 Escuerd
    September 29, 2008

    I had to immediately check the comments to see how many other people thought of the Langoliers when they saw this.

  25. #25 Trish
    September 29, 2008

    Escuerd – I was thinking exactly the same thing. heh

  26. #26 Sven DiMilo
    September 29, 2008

    That was…odd.

    I have no problem with “art” of any kind. I just don’t think it’s the same thing as “visualizing science.”
    But I’ll cop to the curmudgeon thing.

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