Long-finned squid (Loligo pealei)

Watercolor and colored pencil

The Long-finned squid is a member of the Cephalopod class within the Phylum Mollusca. It is most closely related to the octopus, nautilus and cuttlefish, all of which have arms attached directly to the head. The word squid actually comes from their tendency to “squirt” a sepia or brown ink when threatened.

The squid has several notable features which make it one of the most fascinating organisms in Atlantic waters. Scientists have been studying this species for decades. Of particular interest is its giant nerve axon, reaching up to 10 cm in length. Because brain function is essentially the same in all animals, the nerve transmitting mechanisms studied in the squid can be directly related to a range of biological functions and medical issues in humans, such as vision and degenerative nerve disorders.

Evolutionarily, the shell-less squid’s large nerve has been invaluable to its survival. Lightning quick nerves are essential for such a soft bodied and vulnerable creature to avoid danger. The nerve make-up of the squid also explains its ability to change colors and patterns instantly. Nerve cells will often send messages to the “chromatophores” which are groups of cells that light up and give the squid its famous iridescent appearance. The squid is also an important member of the marine food chain, it being a staple in the
diet of many fish.

Original: Available

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