The Loh Down On Science

Giant squid species are not as scientists thought

Credit: Mark Norman, Melbourne Museum/Museum Victoria

 

Giant squid are up to something. But what the kraken is it?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Giant squid are curious creatures.  From head to tentacle-tip, giant squid measure as long as a school bus. They roam all the deep oceans.

But. They're notoriously hard to study because they rarely surface. Most of what we know comes from squid washed up on beaches or found in whale bellies.

To better understand the animals, geneticists analyzed their mitochondrial DNA.  That’s a special type of DNA passed along the female line.

And surprise!  It appears that squid from all over the world show almost no genetic variation. So all giant squid, everywhere, belong to the same species.

Scientists had believed there were at least three species. Why only one?  The researchers suspect the giant squid population recently boomed.  This may be because the numbers of squid-eating whales have decreased from hunting.  

Either way, as my mother used to say about dating: There are lots of giant squid in the sea."  Even if we rarely see them.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

Thursday, from 2-3 p.m. on the LDOS blog: Sandra chats with author Po Bronson about his book NurtureShock.

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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