Sunday, October 31, 2010

More deep-sea gigantism

There's a lot of really cool species that exhibit deep-sea gigantism. The most famous is perhaps the giant squid. It's huge - females can reach 43 feet (13 meters) - and have been reported all over the globe. They have a complex nervous system, an advanced brain (somewhat like cuttlefish...) and dinner-plate eyes. And they're not even the biggest squid in the deep sea.

That honor belongs to the colossal squid, which is fairly similar. It can reach 14 meters - 46 feet - long and its arms not only have the suckers and teeth of the giant squid, but also swiveling and three-pointed hooks. They can take on sperm whales.

You know the tiny pillbugs that probably inhabit your basement? Imagine them a foot long, and you've got the giant isopod. It's related to crabs and lobsters, only it's disgusting and not known to be tasty. They're found in the deep waters of the Atlantic, they really are related to pill bugs, and they can go up to 2200 meters - 7000 feet - down into the depths.

Other giant abyssal species are edible, though. The Japanese spider crab grows up to 13 feet claw-to-claw, with a 16-inch-wide body (carapace). They can live up to 100 years old.

Possibly the single biggest deep-sea species is the appropriately named King of herrings, the giant oarfish. It can grow up to 56 feet long - that's 17 meters. You could lay the head next to the driver on a school bus, and the tail would still stick out the back door. It's so big that it's believed to be responsible for some sea serpent sightings.

No comments: