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back to article Mega squid use HUMONGOUS eyes to spot ravenous sperm whales

Ocean-researching boffins reckon they have figured out why giant and colossal deep sea-dwelling squid need the largest eyes in the animal kingdom: to spot huge predators like sperm whales. Fresh head of a giant squid caught in 1981 Fresh head of a giant squid caught in 1981 by fisherman Henry Olsen. Picture by Ernie Choy at …

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TRT
Silver badge
FAIL

That picture is not a squid...

it's a Dalek creature.

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Re: That picture is not a squid...

thats pic freaks me out slightly. bleurgh

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Anonymous Coward

in other words...

they need big eyes because it's dark down there.

unlike killer whales, which have invested in brain matter only, and stay shallow anyway.

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> "the boffins theorise that their eyes collect more light than other giant animals with smaller optical orbs".

Groundbreaking stuff, who would have thought it! I wonder how those eyes get so big in the first place?

> "Maybe they just grow that big."

Thanks, boffins. I don't know how much this research is costing, but it's worth every penny.

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TRT
Silver badge

You're missing the point...

it's a question of survival advantage. If it was a simple advantage to gather more photons, everything down there in the dark would have bigger eyes. What they said was the squid is somewhere near the top of the food chain, and its main/only predator is the somewhat more massive whale. Those squid with the better photon gathering gear that could detect the bioluminescent bloom as a passing whale swirled it up could dive and hide before they got eaten, so reproduced more frequently.

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Re: You're missing the point...

Not quite. There's a simple advantage to not being eaten. Available countermeasures are:-

1) See the predator coming.

2) Hear the predator coming.

3) Use sonar to detect the predator coming.

4) Use bioelectricity to detect the predator coming.

5) Put up enough of a fight to drive off the predator.

6) Be fast enough that you're hard to catch.

7) Taste seriously nasty (or actually be poisonous).

8) Have enough of your mates around that if a few get eaten, it's no big deal.

Like many animals, the squid has kind of gone for number 5 - a lot of sperm whales apparently have squid scars. But once a bloody great whale has got you in its mouth and started chomping, the best you can do is hurt it a bit before it finishes chewing. So not getting caught in the first place is kind of useful.

As a large animal, many of the other options are not available. And being a cephalopod eliminates some other possibilities. So being able to see better is pretty much the only evolutionary strategy.

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TRT
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Headmaster

Re: You're missing the point...

Evolution isn't a menu you're presented with and make a selection from you know. The number of supposedly scholarly articles I see that 'explain' features like this...

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Go

@TRT

You are correct and I feel your pain. On the other hand, evolution *is* a menu that random chance gets to choose from and natural selection then demonstrates which lucky descendants had a good choice made on their behalf. It's easy to see why so many people end up using the language of choice and success. (But a glance at the Intelligent Design crowd reminds us that evolutionary biology desparately needs to come up with something better.)

In Graham's defence, nowhere in his piece does he actively suggest that the squid (or its genome) is making a conscious choice. Also, I've tried to produce an alternative wording for his penultimate paragraph that adequately conjures the right imagery in my own head. I failed. It isn't that easy. (IMHO, a modest improvement might be obtained by saying that "all except 5" are "unsuccessful". This at least reflects the truth that the vast majority of mutations are selected against.)

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Re: @TRT

I pose that "6" wasn't really an option since they likely are faster, in their environment anyway, and it kind of implies they know a predator is bearing down or constantly stay at speed. I'm not saying that sperm whales aren't capable of high speeds but staying nearly a kilometer down for 30 minutes or so on a single, albeit huge, gulp of air means conserving a good deal of energy. It only seems logical that the whale relies mostly on stealth making only minor movements for course correction in order to catch the tonne or so of food it needs daily and so only minimally disturbs the bioluminescent critters. Given that tiny amount of light, it would take such a large eye to detect it a distance that would prove useful.

It would be fascinating to know if the squids eye is particularly sensitive to the wavelengths of light of the aforementioned bioluminescence. Then again it would be equally fascinating to know how the whale manages to hold its breath for an hour with lungs collapsed to 1% their original size and ribs that must fold like an accordion, never mind avoiding the bends on a 10 minute ascent.

It's things like this that make me wish I had more time to study.

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IT Angle

It is dark.

You are likely to be eaten by a sperm whale.

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Thumb Up

Re: It is dark.

Ahhhhh, Zork... That brings back memories!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It is dark.

But hasn't other research decided that sperm whales probably have relatively simplistic hunting techniques on the basis that the energy gained by eating a big squid is actual less than would be expended in any significant change in their direction - so sperm whales have probably developed their sonar based hunting techniques to detect squid ahead of them from a reasonable distance and make minor adjustments to direction to target them so in response if squid developed eyes that can detect the whales from a similar distance and start to move off the line of approach then they can escape since the whale isn't going to wast energy by turning sharply to follow squid.

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Your Lance of Death tickles the sperm whale.

You are eaten by the sperm whale.

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Gold badge

You are in the stomach of a sperm whale.

There is some partially digested squid here.

Available directions are gullet and gut.

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There is a wooden puppet here, and a sailor who calls himself Jonah

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Facepalm

So it's agreed

The eyes have it.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Stupid Evolution!

It would seem to be much more effective for the squids to develop a way of sensing the sperm whale sonar (be it with ears or a highly refined sense of touch) rather than developing increasingly massive eyes which will still only be effective with a certain level of light.

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Joke

Re: Stupid Evolution!

Squid with DNA anomaly...

"Ooh what's that tingly feeling, sort of really low base sound and then it ticks.. lets go see what it is......"

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TRT
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Re: Stupid Evolution!

There's no squid-master general to yell "It's a trap!"

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Re: Stupid Evolution!

In a biological context, evolution is "random mutation followed by natural selection" and the blind stupidity of that mechanism is precisely the point of Darwin's discovery.

I refer you to TRT's comment a screenful or two further up.

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Linux

Re: Stupid Evolution!

Has anyone ever seen a natural DNA anomaly grant a new additional beneficial feature?

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Happy

Re: Stupid Evolution!

Yes, maybe. Possibly Autism. Idiot savants are possibly genetic mutations. It's the natural selection part that gets them though.

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Ru
Facepalm

Giant Squid are crap, anyway

What kind of a lousy design is 'throat goes through brain' anyway? Remember squidlings, chew your food properly or you might actually inflict traumatic brain injury on yourself. Awesome.

Feed em to a shoal of Humboldt squid, I say. They don't mess around with that sort of nonsense.

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Gold badge

Re: Giant Squid are crap, anyway

Well if it is intelligent design, then God is a bastard.

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Ru
Devil

Re: Well if it is intelligent design, then God is a bastard.

Quite. Respiratory and digestive tracts crossing over, anyone?

Malicious design seems like a much more apt term.

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Anonymous Coward

um..

Not being eaten is not the only reason to develop eyesight and sperm whales aren't their only enemy. A squids gotta eat too ... and big eyes help a whole bunch in that department.

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Bronze badge
Happy

Stephen Fry explains it to you

A large eye is needed to see large things. A whale is quite large so squid need large eyes to see them properly. Stars and planets are very very large, which is why telescopes are so very

large.

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Devil

They've neglected the classics

Oh Squid, what big eyes you have!

The better to see you with, my dear!

<== Closest I could find to a wolf. Or a red hood.

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Oort Cloud Cephalopods

The ability of cephalopods to see by the light of disturbed bioluminescence may stem from their origin in Oort-cloud compound-comet oceans of the Ordovician period, rather than from their transplanted home on earth.

The Appalachian Basin Platform may be one such compound comet core from the inner Oort cloud that formed around the resonances of a companion star (Nemesis) orbiting our sun. Oort cloud comets may still be forming around the resonances of Nemesis (such as the hypothesized Younger Dryas comet impact 12,900 B.P.) in the same way that asteroid-belt planetesimals formed around the resonances of Jupiter.

http://hillscloud.wordpress.com

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Bronze badge
Joke

Re: Oort Cloud Cephalopods

awesome explanation!

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Facepalm

Isn't it obvoius

With the eye volume, they have their own cosmic ray detector.

Giant squid, ha! I'm scared of the one can see neutrinos

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Big Brother

Scientists in "Eyes used to see stuff" Shock!

See above...

<-- BB, obviously.

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How big is the eye of the Goldman-Sachs Vampire Squid? It has to see all the money in all our pockets so it can suck it out of us. Must be X-ray vision like Superman.

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Squid arms shock

Scientists have revealed that the giant squid has evolved giant arms to catch big things shock. Researchers have confirmed that giant squid that used their huge tentacles to catch plankton with tweezers have now all died out. The only squid now surviving being ones that used their gigantic tentacles to do giantish things while staring at their victims with cold, heartless, unblinking, eyes in the abyssal deeps while they kept a wary eye out for marauding sperm whales.

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I have developed large eyes in order to apprehend signs advertising calamari.

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hu

Apple worth more than Microsoft and Intel combined

Let historians note that on Friday, June 3, 2011, Apple surpassed the market capitalization of Microsoft and Intel combined. This milestone comes to us courtesy of MacDailyNews, which notes that as of the close of Friday's markets, Microsoft's market cap was $201.59bn and Intel's was $115.21bn, putting the combined value of the …

www.clothingshopmall.com

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