Wednesday 15 February 2017

Strawberry Squid

Histioteuthis heteropsis
You've seen werewolves versus vampires. You've marvelled at Alien versus Predator. You've wondered what on earth is going on at zombies versus Jane Austen. Now it's time to quake in your boots at the thought of...

Terminator versus Cthulhu!

"I'll be fhtagn."

Also a strawberry got involved somewhere along the way.

You don't need weird, robot eyes to see where the Strawberry Squid got its name from. It looks like a strawberry, what with that lovely rosy colour and a spattering of luminescent photophores that look just like strawberry seeds. But they're also part of the Histioteuthidae family, known as Cock-eyed Squid. You don't need weird, robot eyes to figure out how they got that name, either. It's because of their weird robot eye.

When not destroying their creators, breaking out of their programming, or teaching us all about the law of unintended consequences, robots tend mostly to be useful. The Strawberry Squid's robot eye is no exception.

This squid lives at depths between 200 and 1,000 metres (600 to 3000 feet), in what's known as the twilight zone. This realm is gloomy with the remnants of sunlight, intrepid photons that have managed to delve deep into the sea and escaped absorption by the water. It's not as bright as the sunny shallows above, but neither is it as dark as the bleak depths below.

The Strawberry Squid drifts through the ocean, tentacles down, but at a slight angle. The smaller, normal eye points down, seeking out the flash of light from bioluminescent creatures in the darkness below. Easy work if you can get it! Spotting a bit of light in a lot of darkness is pretty much Eyesight 101.

The robot eye has more difficult work to do, which is why it's up to twice the size of the normal one. It has the kind of amazing night vision we see in deep sea fish like the Pacific Barreleye. With it, the Strawberry Squid can discern the very slight shadows of fish, shrimp and other prey swimming overhead.

They can also keep an eye on things while old Cthulhu lounges about in R'lyeh for eons unending. Someone has to do it.