May 11, 2010 9:55 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
Measuring longer than a school bus and sporting tentacles covered in razor-sharp hooks, the colossal squid is the stuff of nightmares. However, new research suggests the enormous sea creature may not be the fierce hunter of legend.
This finding not only upends science's understanding of the squid itself, but forces a re-evaluation of its role in the entire ecosystem where it lives, some 3,000 to 6,000 feet beneath the Antarctic sea.
This new view of the colossal squid comes from data analysis made by marine biologists Rui Rosa, of the University of Lisboa, Portugal, and Brad Seibel, of the University of Rhode Island. Rosa and Seibel looked at the relationship between metabolism and body size for smaller squids in the same family and used the information to predict the metabolism of the colossal squid.
The researchers found that the colossal squid would have had a slower metabolism and so moved slower than expected, waiting for prey rather than running it down. "Everyone thought it was an aggressive predator, but the data suggests otherwise," Rosa said. "It's a squid that weighs half a ton with hooks in its tentacles, but our findings show it's more like just a big blob."
Contrary to the image of Kraken-like shellfish attacking ships and dragging sailors to their deaths, this new data paints a picture of a mostly sedentary creature, Rosa said. Rather than swimming after prey, the colossal squid would wait to ambush passing fish.