The Vampire Squid is a very interesting creature that lives at about 600-1200 meters under sea level. Despite its nickname, this cephalopod is definitely not a vampire because it feeds on marine snow, which is basically zooplankton and it is almost not a squid either, since it is an ancient species of the Cephalopoda Class, a real fossil at the bottom of the sea.
Vampyroteuthis infernalis is known for its strategy to escape predators. When threatened, it’s extremities light up. And light is a powerful skill to have 1000 meters under the sea! It carries bioluminescent bacteria in pockets on its arms to confuse potential enemies. Otherwise, it’s pretty harmless regardless of its imposing exterior.
Because it lives so far under the sea, there is no light and Oxygen is scarce, but thankfully so are the predators. The vampire squid lives a rather calm life, preserving its energy. This is a key survival trait for such creatures, since its food is low on nutrients.
But aside from its already known coolness, the Vampire Squid is in the headlights these days because it’s just been deemed a beacon of evolution. Unlike its younger members from the Cephalopoda Class who mate only one time throughout their lifespan, right before they die, it seems that Vampyroteuthis infernalis is able to mate far more than once. This is a sign of adaptation to the conditions in its environment.
This is related to its energy saving strategies. Instead of preserving energy all throughout its life in order to release a massive number of eggs before it dies, like the other squids do, the Vampire squid releases eggs periodically. And this is extremely important, because it uses less energy! It will release around 100 eggs at a time and it seems it can do this about 100 times.
Scientists have pinpointed this number by dissecting 40 Vampire Squid specimens that have been preserved at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History since the 1960’s. By interpreting these results, researchers were able to deduce that the 10 cm cephalopod can live up to 8 years.
This also is astonishing, considering that octopuses and squids, renowned members of the Cephalopoda Class live around 1 or 2 years. The next step is to find out exactly how Vampire Squids mate. This is something that has never been seen yet. It is only known that males deliver semen to the females, that they later use when they produce the eggs, but how it all goes about is still something hidden in the darkness.
Image Source: amnh.org