Apr 25

Cephalopods are arguably the weirdest of all marine invertebrates. The name cephalopod literally translates to ‘head-footed’ in Greek, indicating just how strange members of this taxonomic class are, but nothing in their name indicates how incredibly intelligent they are. Their alien-like features are truly fascinating and cephalopods are commonly regarded as the most advanced of all invertebrates!

The weirdest one – nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)

Kicking off our list is the bizarre-looking nautilus, whose appearance resembles a cross between a snail and a shrimp. They are the only species of cephalopod to have retained their external shell, which means they cannot alter their appearance as well as their counterparts.

The invisible one – common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis)

The common cuttlefish is a master of disguise, possessing the ability to transform its appearance to suit its surroundings in an instant. Check out this amazing talent in this video!

The deadly one – southern blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa)

This species has one of the most potent venoms on the planet, 1000 times more powerful than cyanide, and there is no known antidote. The blue rings after which this species is named will only appear when an individual is disturbed and serve as a warning before it attacks. The helpless crab in this video finds this out the hard way!

The strangely familiar one – opalescent squid (Loligo opalescens)

You may have come into contact with this cephalopod more than any other – the opalescent squid is more commonly known to us as ‘calamari’. These small squids live in extremely large shoals and hunt by striking their prey with their tentacles.

The one-size-fits-all one – curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa)

The ability of the curled octopus to transform and camouflage its body is truly fascinating – there is no gap too small or seaweed too colourful for this species! The curled octopus is also equipped with an ink jet they can utilise as a distraction when a predator is nearby. On top of all that, it also has an extremely toxic venom that it uses to paralyse its prey!

The colourful one – Carribean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea)

Commonly found in shallow reef waters, this intriguing species has enormous eyes and is known to have the largest eye-to-body ratio of the whole animal kingdom! Carribean reef squid communicate with each other by changing the colour of their skin.

The huge one – giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

The giant Australian cuttlefish is largest cuttlefish species, reaching lengths of up to a metre.  Despite its large size, this species it is a master of disguise and can easily blend in with its  surroundings due to special pigment cells called chromatophores which allow it to change colour in an instant.

The even huger one – Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas)

A close relative of the giant squid, this species, also known as the ‘jumbo squid’, is a monster capable of growing up to 2 metres long and weighing over 50 kilograms! They can move at considerable speeds (up to 24km/h) and have been known to propel themselves out of the water and soar through the air to evade their predators which include whales, sharks, seals and swordfish.

The bright one – firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans)

This bioluminescent species is definitely deserving of a top 10 spot as it is responsible for one of the most spectacular light shows on the planet! Between March and June millions of firefly squid gather off of the coast of Japan, as well as hundreds of tourists, producing a natural spectacle like no other. The firefly squid also uses its bioluminescence to attract prey and select mates.

The strong one – North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)

Reaching lengths of up to 5 metres and weighing in at up to 50 kilograms, this monster octopus had to make the top 10! The photograph below is not photoshopped, this species does eat sharks! Its raw strength makes it capable of ripping apart shells and flesh with its tentacles or using its powerful ‘beak’ to make easy work of its prey. This, in tandem with its camouflaging talent, makes it a truly ferocious predator.

Have we missed out your favourite cephalopod? Let us know!

Discover more cephalopods on the Arkive website

Will Powell, Arkive guest blogger

Dec 19

Hanukkah, one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the Jewish tradition, commemorates the miraculous supply of oil for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

In honor of the 8 days of Hanukkah, Arkive presents eight wonderful species, some native to Israel and others we think uniquely exemplify this special holiday!

What’s in a shape?

Common starfish

The Star of David is a recognizable Hebrew symbol with 6 distinct points. Most of nature’s “stars” have five points like the beautiful and resilient common starfish that can survive adversity even to the extent of re-growing its arms as long as its core stays intact.

A celebration of lights under the sea

Firefly squid showing bioluminescence

Hanukkah is often referred to as the “Festival of Lights” and celebrates the illumination of the menorah. Deep below the surface of the ocean, species such as the firefly squid produce its own celebration of lights! Utilizing its bioluminescence abilities, the squid camouflages itself by mimicking the light coming from the ocean surface.

Spinning, spinning,  just keep spinning

Spinner dolphin leaping and spinning

The dreidel, a popular toy for children during Hanukkah, has symbols that denote the phrase “A great miracle happened there”. Much like the dreidel, the spinner dolphin emerges from the water spinning high in the air. It is hypothesized this behavior might be used to dislodge remoras or might simply be dolphins having fun.

Are the latkes ready yet?

A young Japanese macaque looks to an older female

A traditional food during Hanukkah or the Feast of Dedication is the delicious latkes composed mainly of potatoes. Japanese macaques are also big fans of potatoes. In a unique display, a female in one troop of Japanese macaques washed potatoes in seawater prior to eating them. Now all members of her troop display this distinctive behavior!

 Would the Hoopoe by another name sound as sweet?

Close up of the head of a juvenile Eurasian hoopoe

The beautiful and colorful Eurasian hoopoe is named for its distinct vocalizations of hoop hoop hoop. Its splendid orange-tan plumage and regal crest differentiate it from other birds in the area. The hoopoe was officially chosen as the national bird of Israel in May 2008.

Someone needs a quick desert catnap

Sand cat grooming

The cuddly sand cat strongly resembles a domestic cat, but don’t be fooled by its looks. This is one hardy kitty since it is the only cat that lives foremost in true deserts including the desert regions in southern Israel. With limited water resources, it obtains the majority of its water from its diet.

From 8 candles to 8 legs

Female crab spider

One of the most iconic symbols of Hanukkah, the Menorah holds 8 candles for each day of the holiday, and an extra candle to light other candles and/or to be used as an extra light. In nature the arachnids defining characteristic is the presence of eight legs like that of the vibrantly yellow crab spider. This species has the extraordinary ability to alter its color to match its background!

Are my tree rings showing?

Olive trees

It might still look like a sapling, but the olive tree is the world’s oldest cultivated plant! It transcends time and cultures through its worldwide recognition as a symbol of abundance and peace. In September 2007, Israel elected the olive tree as its national tree.

Happy Hanukkah!

 William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA

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