502 words • 2~4 min read

World’s only giant squid pulls off greatest prank in history

headshot-thalerSMALLThere is only one giant squid, her name is Ducky, and she’s orchestrated the greatest prank in history.

No, I don’t mean that there’s only one species of giant squid,  Architeuthis dux, as was recently revealed by marine science rising star Inger Winkelmann, although it’s true. I mean that there is only one individual Archituethis dux, her name must naturally be Ducky, and, for the last 3 decades, she’s been messing with us.

Let us review the evidence:

First is Winkelmann et al’s recent report reducing the number of Archituethis species to one. This paper also revealed that giant squid are genetically homogeneous (at least in their mitochondrial genome), leading the authors to conclude that there is a single, globally distributed and well-connected giant squid population. The author’s interpretation is certainly plausible based on this evidence, but there is a more parsimonious explanation–rather than a single population, there is a single squid who’s been dropping “squid molts” all over the world to confuse researchers.

from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09/photogalleries/giant_squid/index.html

Second is this incriminating photo series from the very first time a giant squid was photographed in the wild, in 2005. You can clearly see the squid approaching a baited trap and taking the bait. But what you also see is Ducky’s first mistake in almost two decade, she left two arms behind. Ok, so no big deal. It’s a big ocean, there’s no way that will come back and bite her.

But then…

Third and finally, we have this winter’s unveiling of the first giant squid ever video recorded in its natural environment, just going about its day (much like these giant deep-sea isopods, of which there are clearly at least two). The video is marvelous and reveals some fantastic details of giant squid behavior. It also reveals one other detail…

…this squid, filmed in 2012, is missing both her arms.

The data, both molecular and morphological, are irrefutable. There is only one giant squid.

Her name is Ducky.

And she just pulled off the greatest prank in oceanographic history.

Well played, Ducky. I tip my hat to you.

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Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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