Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Squids are Aflight

For a long time, apparently the species of squid known as the Japanese flying squid was thought to be more accurately named the Japanese jumping squid. The 8-inch mollusk had been seen airborne, but scientists didn't think it was flying so much as jumping into the air, the way "flying" fish and dolphins do.

More careful observations, though, have shown that when it leaves the water (using an expelled jet of water for propulsion), the flying squid actually uses its fins to glide and can travel as far as 100 feet before re-entering. That's far more than a mere "jump," being comparable to an average human being traveling almost three football fields through the air. Or a tall building in a single bound if your thinking goes that way, which is a power and ability far beyond those of mortal men.

These squid are small, as mentioned above, so we're not talking about the giant Captain Nemo-styled variety hurtling through the air to wrap its tentacles around unwitting prey before carrying them into the inky depths. Of course, if that's been happening we wouldn't know about it, since the victims are gone and the squids ain't talking.

Scientists in the story say that the squids take wing -- or "fin," I guess -- in order to escape predators. Suddenly being 100 feet away from something with a mouthful of teeth is a useful survival mechanism. But they note that their presence in the air may mean they are subject to predation by birds, who can more easily pluck their tasty treats from midair instead of underwater.

The birds were heard to say, "Hey can someone read us the rest of the article so we can know where to go to find these things?"

No comments: