Cephalopods represent what are, arguably, one of our planet’s weirdest classes of creatures. But if these often ink-shooting, beaked, tentacled and surprisingly intelligent water-dwellers weren’t odd enough already, there might be a few additional reasons why we should keep an eye on these strange and squishy sea-beasts. The realm of the squid certainly delves into aspects of Forteana and the ever-popular Lovecraftian lore, but for all intents and purposes, we might do well to prepare ourselves for the advent of an intelligent, and even mechanically-enhanced giant squid invasion.
Well not really… but squid lore certainly does get fairly strange, as we’ll soon begin to see.
Although the term Kraken may have been popularized in recent times by Perseus’ epic battle in the film Clash of the Titans, the fabled creature didn’t originate from Greek or Roman culture. In the traditional sense, the Kraken were first chronicled in Norse legends as giant squid-like creatures that would attack unsuspecting ships, pulling them into the ocean’s depths. However, the strange mythos and bizzarre realities of the squid and octopus, much like their long, formidable arms and tentacles, is again much further reaching.
There are around 300 species of squid known to exist, but of the many varieties, Todarodes pacificus, also commonly known as the “Japanese flying squid” is the only variety known to be able to coast through the air. But how do they do it? By blasting a highly pressurized jet of water from their bodies, this species can propel themselves, in instances, up to almost 100 feet by spreading their fins once airborne. This unique ability is attributed to being for purposes of diverting predators primarily, though it only adds to the odd air surrounding these tentacle-barring beast.
Paul, the Psychic Cephalopod
Squid and related species, such as the octopus, have displayed incredible abilities such as opening jars to retrieve food, and even talents for walking on land. But is there evidence that one very special cephalopod perhaps even showed an instance of precognitive ability?
An octopus known as “Paul” made news after accurately predicting the outcome of seven individual matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The selection process consisted of Paul gravitating towards one of two boxes, each containing a mussel decorated with the opposing national team’s individual flag. Granted, there was confusion regarding Paul and another separate octopus being reported as being the same aquatic “oracle”, though perhaps the these accurate (and most likely coincidental) predictions still lend a bit of allure of the odd creatures.
Lovecraft, Cthulhu, and Strange Squid Phenomenon
The imaginatively rich composition “The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft famously depicted a strange cult of devotees worshiping the ancient slumbering giant Cthulhu, waiting beneath the ocean in the lost city of R’lyeh. In one Fortean tie-in, some enthusiasts over the years had hoped, somewhat tongue in cheek, that parallels between Lovecraft’s fiction and known recordings obtained by NOAA in the 1990s would help to explain the so-called “Bloop” phenomenon (granted, this too was eventually attributed to being recordings of seismic activity, despite one biologist’s claim that “Bloop” had been a large ocean monster). But to lend assurance to fans of Lovecraftian literature, in 2011, a theory formulated by researchers puzzled over a series of oddly placed fossilized shonisaur vertebrae postulated that these interesting configurations could be a prehistoric “self portrait” created by an ancient Triassic cephalopod. Although the theory might be a stretch for some, it’s still fun to ponder if the extraordinary intelligence of this species could have potentially lead to the ability of abstract artistic interpretation.
As humans, we fancy ourselves not only a highly advanced species, but the most advanced on planet Earth. Therefore, it is interesting to consider the way that creatures like the giant squid have remained elusive for the most part: the first live specimens were only captured on camera within the last few years. While new animal species are discovered on the small land-covered portions of this planet every year, our fascination with mysterious earthbound life endures, often in ignorance of what might exist a bit further down. Who knows what giants may be lurking in the vast oceanic crevasses still beyond our reach? The colossal squid is thought to have grown to its enormous size in an evolutionary effort to withstand the pressures of deep sea living, but just how far down can these creatures survive? How big can they get? And furthermore, with all that is known about the uncanny intelligence displayed by the smaller varieties of cephalopods, are there things we may one day be surprised to learn about the nature and capabilities of the larger, and more physically agressive variety?