Flying frogs and cephalopods

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The world of teuthologists (squid scientists to you and I) has been all agog recently with the release of footage showing the giant squid in its own environment. Previously, the only giant squid that reached the surface were dying or dead, since they live in the dark deeps of the ocean. But now, thanks to increased ability to reach the ocean’s floor at least remotely, we can see these fearsome beasties going about their daily business (which largely consists of “Kill something and eat it. Kill something and eat it. Kill something and eat it” ad infinitum).

There’s a great (if lengthy) article about this discovery and its ramifications on Boing Boing, entitled The Kraken Awakes: What Architeuthis is Trying to Tell Us. You might expect, for instance, that our means of fishing (trawling and longline) and ocean-floor oil drilling would be having a deleterious effect on sea life, and you’d be right. You might also guess that this could impact other parts of the food chain, as I’ve mentioned in my shark posts.

What you might not expect is that the decrease in squid numbers is causing stomach ulcers in toothed whales (sperm whales, pilot whales, etc.). This is because these whales aren’t getting enough squid in their diets, and since for them squid are a source of water as well as food, they’re not getting enough water, and hence may have strong stomach acid gnawing holes in their stomach lining.

If you live in the US, or in certain other lucky regions that definitely don’t include Australia, you may be able to watch the Discovery Channel video of the giant squid here.

And now for something completely different: in my browsing, I’ve recently discovered quite an interesting site. It’s a Canadian radio show that puts a lot of fascinating podcasts up on their web page, which is Quirks and Quarks. The particular excerpt that I stumbled upon is one which discusses flying frogs. They don’t actually fly, of course, but they do glide extremely accurately, using extensive webbing between their fingers and toes to glide from tree to tree.

And since that phrase makes just one thing spring to mind, here is the Monty Python Sheep Sketch. Enjoy.

[Featured image: Architeuthis (giant squid). Image courtesy of NHK/NEP/Discovery Channel]


  1. Ah, yes, I apologise. You might also want to check out the link at the bottom of the “Mini-monsters of the deep” post: the dumbo octopus seems to fly in water (and looks in photos rather like dumbo in running shoes).

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