The secret life of a mysterious creature that feeds on the decaying dead in the unlit depths of the ocean has been revealed.
The squid is so weird that it is known as a ‘phylogenetic relic’. It has the honour of occupying a taxonomic category all of its own, combining features of octopuses and squids in a unique evolutionary formula that has survived for millions of years.
This creature was shown alive on one of the David Attenborough specials on the deep ocean habitat. The television program made it seem much larger, but there was really no point of reference for size. As I recall, the animal was not black but rather a dark burnt-orange red color, not unusual for animals in the deep sea where red light does not penetrate and thus red creatures appear black. It did indeed have huge eyes of an eerie luminous blue color. When it felt threatened by the submersible's lights and camera, it folded it's entire umbrella structure around its body, looking rather like a spiny football. While it is certainly weird, feeding on dead animals is not unique to this cephalopod, the more famous (and also quite strange) Chambered Nautilus also takes dead prey, but does not consume them in the same manner, it just bites off chucks.
If you ever get to watch any well done program about deep sea life, it is always amazing to see the truly alien creatures that live there.
Fascinating! I've always been really very interested in cephalopods and marine life (having of course been a marine biologist myself for a time), but this one is really very near the top of my list. It's just fascinating.