The Mysterious Animal Known As The Squid

1793 words - 7 pages

The mysterious animal known as the squid has inspired ballads, art, fear, awe, and long-told stories for centuries. The mysterious Kraken has encouraged whispered stories after lights-out. Many assume that the only species of squid is the giant squid, reaching over 40 feet in officially recorded cases. However, there are over 300 documented species of squid, ranging in all of sizes. The scientific classification of one species, the fire squid, is as follows: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Mollusca, Class: Cephalopoda, Order: Teuthida, Family: Pyroteuthidae, Genus: Pyroteuthis, Binomial Name: P. serrata. While this is the classification for one single species of squid, this paper will discuss the entire order of Teuthida. Ranging from the size of a pencil eraser to one of the largest organisms in the Kingdom Animalia, it is obvious how such daunting tales came to be told about the unexplained mystery of the squid.

Many different squid exist, and along with different species comes different looks, however, all squid are based on a basic body plan. The average squid species range from as tiny as 2 cm to as threatening as two metres in length. However, Teuthids range from the Antarctic up-to-14-metres Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) to the tiny less-than-one-inch Grass Squid (Pickfordiateuthis pulchella). The elongated body, also called the mantle, is slightly swollen near the middle and tapers to a blunt point. At this point is the head, at which point the tentacles begin. Also at the head is the mouth of the squid, which has a sharp, bird-like beak used like teeth. All species of squid possess long, cylindrical bodies and an internal, blade-shaped gladius. A gladius is made of chitin, like human fingernails, and lends support and shape to the mantle. Two fins are located near the posterior and which are about one-third to one-half as long as the mantle and are slight lobed in front. Squids possess the traits of all Cephalopods, including well-developed brains, and a circulatory system with three hearts, veins and arteries. Cephalopods also typically have ink sacks, used to dispel ink at will, and no external shell. Squids live only in sea water, using jet propulsion their main means of movement. Almost all squids have the ability to change rapidly in colour and texture. Squids can thank the extended family of Mollusks for their soft, fleshy bodies and their sharp, razor-like tongue organ called a radula. A radula is covered with diminutive blades. A radula is used for cutting prey into manageable pieces for digestion. Squid, like all Cephalopods, have a complex digestive system, including organs such as a liver, and a stomach. The anatomy of a squid has lent us many insights into our own. The nervous system of the squid is similar to our own. However, while the nerves of humans vary in size from 1/1000cm to 1/50cm, the nerves of most squids are over 1/20 cm. The size of the nervous system lends the fantastic speed and timing required...

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