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Deep-sea squid may attract prey with 'swimming' tentacles

Sept. 3, 2013 at 7:07 PM   |   Comments

MONTEREY, Calif., Sept. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. marine biologists say they've observed deep-sea squid with tentacles that appear to swim on their own, possibly as a lure to attract small animals as food.

Researchers associated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California said one species of deep-sea squid, Grimalditeuthis bonplandi, possesses tentacle tips that flap and flutter as if swimming on their own.

Most squids have eight arms and two longer "feeding" tentacles, armed with suckers or hooks, that they extend to grab prey and carry the captured meal to their mouths.

But G. bonplandi is a slow swimmer with a weak, gelatinous body and its tentacles -- with no suckers or hooks -- are long, thin, fragile, and too weak to capture prey, the researchers said.

The researchers said they believe the "swimming" motion of its longest tentacles may give the impression of small, swimming animals, independent from the rest of the squid's body, to induce smaller squids and shrimp to approach close enough to be captured by its shorter arms.

Topics: U.S. Marine
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