Monday, July 12, 2010


For years, the mating habits of deep-sea squid have been a mystery. With all their naughty bits encased in their hood-like mantles, how do males get their sperm where it needs to go? Turns out, the answer is simple. They have a tremendously elongated dong. Scientists recently discovered a squid specimen with a fully erect penis nearly as long as its entire body, including tentacles. It’s the white tube at the bottom of the above picture. They still don’t know exactly where the squid shoots its packets of sperm, but it’s certain the penis is long enough to squirm its way up even the toughest to reach mantles. (Coincidentally, this is also how Tom Jones inseminates squid.) Dr. Alexander Arkhipkin of the Falkland Islands Government Fisheries Department describes the moment of discovery to the BBC: “The mature male squid was caught during a deep-water research cruise on the Patagonian slope. We took the animal from the catch, and it was moribund with arms and tentacles still moving, and chromatophores on the skin contracting and expanding. When the mantle of the squid was opened for maturity assessment, we witnessed an unusual event. The penis of the squid, which had extended only slightly over the mantle margin, suddenly started to erect, and elongated quickly to 67cm total length, almost the same length as the whole animal.” You’d be forgiven for mistaking this quote for a passage from Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, but remember: Captain Nemo would have eaten the penis. More details here.