In an undated handout photo, a Vampyroteuthis infernalis, or vampire squid with its retractile feeding filament extended.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research I, New York Times

Fear not -- turns out the vampire squid is a softy

  • October 6, 2012 - 3:42 PM


What do monsters eat? No one knew in the case of Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the vampire squid. With its blue eyes, dark red body and cloaklike webbing, experts assumed the worst, that, like its squid and octopus cousins, it enjoyed dining on live prey. But the creature lives in a twilight zone in the depths of the world's oceans that few other animals could inhabit because the levels of dissolved oxygen are so low. Now, marine biologists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California have solved the riddle. Fear not, innocents! It turns out that the monster dines on slime. Hendrik J.T. Hoving, a postdoctoral fellow, and Bruce H. Robison, a senior scientist, report that the vampire squid extends two threadlike filaments like fishing lines to capture organic debris raining down from the surface. They concluded in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences that the ghoulish animal thrives by inhabiting a hostile environment where "predators are few, and its food is abundant."


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