Vampir mürekkep balığı (Vampyroteuthis infernalis, "Cehennemden gelen vampir ahtapod") küçüktür,
dünyanın ılıman ve tropikal okyanuslarda derin denizlerde bulunan bir kafadanbacaklıdır. Hem Kalamar ve hem de ahtapot ile benzer özellikler paylaşır. Benzersiz retraktil (uzayıp içe çekilebilir=izmaritin çenesi gibi) duyargalarla dolu kolları vardır.
Bir filogenetik kalıntı olarak onun ait olduğu takımda dünyada bilinen tek hayatta kalan üyesidir, ilk açıklanan ve ilk Alman teuthologist Carl Chun tarafından 1903 yılında bir ahtapot olarak sınıflandırılan , ancak daha sonra çeşitli soyu tükenmiş takson ile birlikte eski bir takıma dahil edilmiştir.
Vampir mürekkep balığı yaklaşık 30 cm (1 ft) maksimum toplam uzunluğa ulaşır. Onun 15 cm (6 inç) jelatinimsi vücut konumu ve aydınlatma koşullarına bağlı olarak, kadife simsiyah ve soluk kırmızımsı arasındaki renk değişir.
The vampire squid is a garbage-eater that collects raining rubbish with living fishing lines
In 2010, an article in Rolling Stone likened the investment bank Goldman Sachs to a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.The creature it was referring to does exist its not a true squid, but one of their close relatives. But despite its terrifying name and appearance, its not a vampire. It doesnt suck blood. It doesnt have a blood funnel.
In fact, thanks to newly published observations, we now know that the vampire squid is a garbage-eater. It extends living fishing lines from its body to snag a rain of rubbish falling from the surface, getting fat on a menu of faeces and corpses.
The Goldman Sachs metaphor still works, doesnt it?
The vampire squid belongs to the cephalopods, the group that includes squid, octopuses and cuttlefish. But its an evolutionary relict that appeared well before any of these more familiar animals. Its body is gelatinous and blood-coloured, as if the internal organ of a larger animal had broken free. It swims with two wing-like flaps, sees with opal-blue eyes, and lights up the surrounding water with flashing organs found all over its body, and especially at the tips of its arms.
Two of these arms have been modified into white thin filaments, which coil up into special pockets, and can extend to 8 times the animals length. The other eight arms are connected by a cloak-like web that can be inverted over the vampire squids body to reveal a muddy charcoal interior, lined with fleshy spines. You can see where the name comes from.
The vampire squid lives all over the world, but we know very little about what it does. Thats partly because it lives at incredible depths 600 to 900 metres below the surface, in pitch blackness. This level is known as the oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) and unlike the vampire squid, its well-named. While a few animals thrive here, most are choked off by the lack of oxygen.
The vampire squid copes by having an incredibly slow metabolism, blood proteins that hug oxygen molecules with an unyielding grip, and a body that so closely matches the density of water that it neither floats nor sinks. It rarely wastes energy on unnecessary movements. It simply hangs in the darkness.
But even though it lives life in the slow lane, the vampire squid needs food, and thats in short supply in the oxygen minimum zone. What does it eat? To find out, Hendrik Hoving and Bruce Robison from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) analysed footage of 170 vampire squids, taken over the last decade by the institutes submersibles.
The videos, along with feeding experiments on captive vampire squids, revealed that they use their filaments like mobile spider webs. They extend these into the surrounding water to ensnare particles of food falling from above. The filaments are covered in tiny hairs, probably for catching these particles. They also have neurons that connect to a particularly large part of the creatures brain, presumably so it can sense whats stuck to its fishing lines.
When the time is right, it retracts the filaments, transfers the food to its other arms, and coats them in mucus secreted from its arm tips. It then conveys these delicious balls of mucus-bound detritus into its mouth, possibly with the help of the spines within its cloak.
This strategy is very different to that of other cephalopods, most of which are active hunters that attack and kill their food. Vampire squids are definitely not that, as Hoving and Robison confirmed by checking the stomachs of captured specimens. They found eggs, algae, pellets of faeces, bits of jelly, crustacean body partsantennae, eyes, some shells, whole copeopodsand flesh from another deep-sea squid. In both kind and quantity, these remnants dont reflect the diet of a hunter.
Instead, Hoving and Robison think that the vampire squid is mainly a detritivore a rubbish-eater. With few predators in the oxygen minimum zone, it can afford to sacrifice powerful swimming muscles or a high metabolism. Instead, it leads a relatively passive lifestyle, collecting the plentiful snowing debris with its two modified arms. With these adaptations, it can greatly extend the reach of its mouth, while its bodyand its lifeliterally hangs in the balance.
Reference: Hoving & Robsion. 2012. Vampire squid: detritivores in the oxygen minimum zone. Proc Roy Soc B
All images from Hoving and Robison
Vampire squid: detritivores in the oxygen minimum zone
+ Author Affiliations
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA
Vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) are considered phylogenetic relics with cephalopod features of both octopods and squids. They lack feeding tentacles, but in addition to their eight arms, they have two retractile filaments, the exact functions of which have puzzled scientists for years. We present the results of investigations on the feeding ecology and behaviour of Vampyroteuthis, which include extensive in situ, deep-sea video recordings from MBARI's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), laboratory feeding experiments, diet studies and morphological examinations of the retractile filaments, the arm suckers and cirri. Vampire squid were found to feed on detrital matter of various sizes, from small particles to larger marine aggregates. Ingested items included the remains of gelatinous zooplankton, discarded larvacean houses, crustacean remains, diatoms and faecal pellets. Both ROV observations and laboratory experiments led to the conclusion that vampire squid use their retractile filaments for the capture of food, supporting the hypothesis that the filaments are homologous to cephalopod arms. Vampyroteuthis' feeding behaviour is unlike any other cephalopod, and reveals a unique adaptation that allows these animals to spend most of their life at depths where oxygen concentrations are very low, but where predators are few and typical cephalopod food is scarce.
Proc. R. Soc. B November 22, 2012 279 1747 4559-4567; published ahead of print September 26, 2012, 1471-2954