Armed & Fabulous: The World’s 8 Most Amazing Squids

You don’t have to be Dr. Caligari to love calamari though it helps to have an appreciation for the strange and bizarre, and squids are both of those and more! These 8 amazing squids span the globe’s oceans while expanding the walls of any cabinet of curiosities.

Piglet Squid

(images via: Seaway Blog)

The Piglet Squid (Helicocranchia pfefferi) may look like a cartoon come to life but appearances can be deceptive. For one thing, this avocado-sized creature lives in the low-light zone 200 to 1000 meters (650 to 3300 feet) below sea level so it’s often spotted swimming upside down and thus looking up. Its tentacles therefore give it the look of a chubby piglet sporting a mop of unkempt hair.

(images via: ScienceBlogs, Me Time Is Free Time and Sea Of Cortez)

It may be photographed rarely but the Piglet Squid certainly makes the most of its opportunities. Take the “smiling” specimen above. A fortuitous yet randomly placed band of pigment gives the squid above a sweet smile that’s actually nowhere near its mouth.

Vampire Squid

(images via: MBARI and Simian Idiot)

The Vampire Squid‘s Latin name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates to “vampire squid from Hell”. Nice. It was first described in 1903 by by German teuthologist (squid expert) Carl Chun who was obviously deeply impressed and/or disturbed by the creature’s large red eyes and the spooky black lining of its “cloak”.

(images via: Cosmarium, NYTimes Dealbook and Politico)

This curious creature lies taxonomically somewhere between squids and octopuses – the aforementioned “cloak” formed by webbing that connects its arms is unique among cephalopods. Vampire Squids also sport dozens of odd, fleshy spikes along their arms and are able to distract predators by expelling a cloud of mucus containing small bioluminescent orbs. We’re definitely going to need a bigger Kleenex. More recently, the perceived evil hideousness of the Vampire Squid was invoked by the Occupy movement as a way to describe investment banker Goldman Sachs, which is actually insulting… to the Vampire Squid.

Colossal Squid

(images via: Wikipedia, Te Ara and Marinebio)

The Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) is well-named: at 12 to 14 meters (39 to 46 ft) in length and weighing in excess of 500 kg (1,100 lb), this real-life Kraken is about the only other sea creature able to give full-grown Sperm Whales a fight. The whales often win but pay the price of having their skin scored by the squid’s hundreds of hook-toothed suckers.

(image via: The Incredible Suit)

Native to deep, dark and frigid Antarctic waters, Colossal Squid are only rarely encountered though often wildly exaggerated reports of them are found in a wealth of ocean legends and old sailor’s lore: paint one green and you’ve got your very own pet Cthulhu… yes, R’lyeh. They may not be able to bring down a clipper ship but with eyes the size of dinner plates it’s a sure bet they could see one coming from afar.

Glass Squid

(images via: Tree Of Life and Anotheca/Dante Fenolio)

Glass squids are a family of squid species, the majority of which have mainly transparent bodies. One of the more unusual is Cranchia Scabra, a species that bolsters its semi-transparent strangeness by having a barrel-shaped body studded with dozens of small tubercles.

(image via: Deep Creatures)

When stressed or attacked by predators, 150mm (3 inch) long Cranchia Scabra pulls its head and tentacles into its studded mantle much like a tortoise retreating into its shell. Unlike the tortoise, Cranchia Scabra can inject ink into the mantle’s lining and near-instantly camouflage itself against dark backgrounds… sort of like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Squid.