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Nature & Environment

Giant squid may be intelligent, new study finds

By T.K. Randall
January 19, 2020 · Comment icon 7 comments

The giant squid has long inspired tales of tentacled sea monsters. Image Credit: Free Library of Philadelphia
For the first time ever, scientists have successfully sequenced the genome of the elusive giant squid.
Growing to sizes in excess of 40ft long, this gargantuan cephalopod, which had been the subject of mariner's tales for centuries, was only officially recognized relatively recently.

Even after the first photograph of a live giant squid was captured in 2004 and the first footage was recorded in 2012, there is still much about this extremely elusive species that we just don't know.

Now though, the shroud of mystery surrounding the giant squid has been peeled back just a little more thanks to a team of scientists who have succeeded in sequencing its genome for the first time.

Given the absence of a live specimen, the research had to be carried out on a corpse.

The scientists, who were led by the University of Copenhagen's Rute da Fonseca, discovered that the giant squid's genome is 90 percent the size of our own with a whopping 2.7 billion DNA base pairs.
One of the most intriguing things they found was that the squid, which has one of the largest brains of any cephalopod, also possesses 100 genes in the protocadherin family - something that is typically associated with "wiring up a complicated brain correctly."

This could tentatively indicate that the giant squid may be quite intelligent.

"A genome is a first step for answering a lot of questions about the biology of these very weird animals," said squid and octopus expert Caroline Albertin from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

"While cephalopods have many complex and elaborate features, they are thought to have evolved independently of the vertebrates. By comparing their genomes we can ask, 'Are cephalopods and vertebrates built the same way or are they built differently?'"

As things stand however, even with its genome sequenced, the giant squid remains surrounded in mystery. How does it mate ? What does it eat ?

These are just some of the questions that we are still no closer to answering.

Source: Popular Mechanics | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by RabidMongoose 4 years ago
Those things are giant brains equipped with eyes and tentacles.
Comment icon #2 Posted by joc 4 years ago
How does the genome of a giant squid compare to the genome of a regular squid...or an octopus?  
Comment icon #3 Posted by DreadLordAvatar 4 years ago
Because these are aliens, 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Tom1200 4 years ago
If they really are intelligent I think they should be better protected.  Currently there are approximately 200 000 sperm whales, each devouring upwards on a tonne of squid every day.  Since the ban on commercial whaling these monstrous mammals are of no further use to us, so let's get rid of them.  Lift the ban, tell the Japanese and hey presto! - within a year there'll be none left. 1  Then the oceans will team with intelligent life and maybe we humans can ease off inventing new stuff for a bit - let someone else do the hard work for a while.  I imagine, based on my vague recall of the M... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Tatetopa 4 years ago
Interesting point of view if a little troll-like. If sperm whales are more intelligent than squids are we wrong not to protect them 100% ? If usefulness to humanity is the criteria, what use to us are giant squids? If the oceans did  teem with intelligent and powerful life, they might resent human trespass, pollution, and hunting. Maybe sperm whales are the only creature preventing the total eradication of the human race by time traveling, teleporting cephalopods   How ungrateful we are.  
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Comment icon #7 Posted by Nnicolette 4 years ago
In all seriousness i keep hearing that comparison because of the way octopi rewrite their own rna. It is pretty amazing i mean changing your size, color, and genetic coding at will is pretty impressive i am sure they really would be capable of adapting to various planets.

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