Nov 13, 2007

Reflectins on a Squid

My buddy Alan sent me this one. We're big fans of the cephalopods of the world, having encountered them on dives in Mexico.

Now, I hesitate to call this ugly. In fact, given its polka-dots and diminutive tentacles, I daresay its cute. But its a mollusk, so it belongs here.

You're looking into the eye of a Hawaiian bobtail squid. Chemical and Engineering News recently reported on them, highlighting the fact that they use unusual proteins to disguise itself from nocturnal predators:

The squid has a light-producing organ on its underside that is powered by luminescent bacteria. The light emitted by these bacteria is reflected downward by stacks of silvery platelets located behind the bacteria-containing tissue.

By beaming this light downward, scientists think the squid avoids casting a shadow and forming a silhouette in the moonlit waters, thus camouflaging itself against predators at lower depths that are looking upward for prey.

The proteins used in this function are a new discovery, and have been dubbed "reflectins". But these proteins might have a value to more than just the bobtail squid. They might be usable in optical nanodevices. I'm not sure if I should root for an industrial application of these squid proteins, or if I should drop Michael Crichton an email so he can write us another best-selling novel warning us against their use.

In the meantime, Beanie Babies should really consider making a Hawaiian bobtail squid plush toy.

Thanks for the link, Alan.

Photo source: University of Wisconsin-Madison


Cozytailmom said...

Awww... pookie-pie!
That is a cute squid. Just look at that eye...

Anonymous said...

Bobtail squids are the cutest animals on Earth. There, I said it. Eat it, koala bears!

Nebulous Grey said...

I would absolutely buy a plushie bobtail squid.
I'm developing a rather large love for cephalopods. Woohoo.

jenjen said...

I think it looks like murano glass. Lovely!

Meg Lyman said...

I think I'm in love.


bluewyvern said...

Cute? It's ADORABLE.

Get it off your blog! ;)

Arachnophile said...

This is just more evidence of what I've been saying all along: Cephlapods are CLEARLY superiour creatures all-'round.

Someone needs to start making these plushies - STAT!

It almost makes me wish I could sew... almost.

jonofwrath said...

Anyone know who Sheena 5 is? Cephalopod character from a series Stephen Baxter novels. Very cool. Ever though about more adapted to space travel Squids are? Think on! :D

This lil chap is totally cute!

Niki said...

I LOVE SHEENA 5! holy crap, I'm reading that book right now its so great! Cephalopods are incredible, everyone should love these amazing things