Member of The Crypto Crew:

Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):

And Kyle Germann's Blog

And Jay's Blog, Bizarre Zoology

Saturday, 3 August 2013

"Enemies of the Architeuthis"

There is a somewhat peculiar exchange of views between Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans recorded in the Conclusions part of In The Wake of the Sea Serpents. On page 556 and under the "Merhorse" heading, Heuvelmans quotes a message from Sanderson as saying:
Natives of the Arufra Sea and notably in the Aru Islands [near to Irian Jaya, Western New Guinea-DD] call them the equivalent of 'Enemies of the Architeuthis' and assert that if grabbed while feeding inside a reef by the long arms of a giant squid lying on the outside of the reef, they will just chop off said arms and eat them, or pull the cephalopod over the reef by brute force.
Which elicits the reply from Heuvelmans "This reputation of enmity may be formed on an accidental observation of a duel between a Merhorse and a giant squid which have come to the surface from the depths where they both regularly live" and before the block quote Heuvelmans states "The Arufura Sea which connects to the Coral Sea, where there are many sightings of Merhorses" (perhaps half a dozen, but some of Heuvelmans' reports of "Merhorses" in the Coral Sea include some obvious elephant seals on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia) And before one gets too cheerful about the Coral Sea being connected to the Arufura sea, we are talking about islands about three thousand miles apart when we are talking about the Aru Islands and New Caledonia.

I had thought I had a marvelous statement to indicate giant squid were part of the Whale-eater's regular diet, but in checking this story out I find no indication of what the giant squid night be called, I find no indication that giant squid are ever found anywhere near the Aru islands, nor yet near New Caledonia, at all. They tend to avoid the tropics. So actually we have no confirmation for either Sanderson's or Heuvelmans' statements quoted here.           Distribution of giant squid from strandings (map)

However I don't think either man was actually making anything up out of whole cloth. So I hold onto
 some hope that giant mosasaurs [As the originals for Leviathans, Whale-eaters and the largest form of "Merhorse"] regularly kill and eat giant squids on our world and in our time.

ADDENDUM: Jay Cooney and I were discussing the matter on Facebook after the original publication of this blog. Jay Cooney started in with this comment: "I've seen American science documentaries refer to non-Architeuthis squid as 'giant squids.' So I think it's likely that Heuvelmans and Sanderson heard "giant squids" and interpreted it as thus. Or, maybe there just haven't been any recorded beaching a of Architeuthis in that region"
And so I replied:"Both of them [Sanderson and Heuvelmans] thought the genus was cosmopolitan. And in this case it probably was such a thing as informants said 'giant octopus/squid' and they were understood as referring to Architeuthis, which was the only genus of giant squids commonly known at the time. Now we also do have lesser genera of squids related to Architeuthis but not so large and often confused with them: perhaps it was one of those other ones.The thing to do is to see which of those other genera is a likely candidate in that range"
" I may cut this conversation out and paste it on that blog, I think we have hit on something"
And so Jay Cooney replied: "Yeah, I think that's likely. Sounds good Dale."

It would seem that the Bigfin Squid would be a good candidate, it has very long arms and is largely tropical in range. I have seen videos of this squid mistakenly identified as Architeuthis:
But there are several other squids in the mantle length of a meter or more range, Architeuthis accepted as 2.25 meters:

It seems that the tentacles of these squid can be almost 30 feet long and that they feed by blind groping about on the seafloor or at medium depths, seizing anything suitable they might come across. On occasion, such a creature feeding along a reef could mistakenly attach onto a mosasaur by its groping and then you have the scenario presented by Sanderson and Heuvelmans. And so we would have confirmation the whale-eater does feed on big deepsea squids: the possibility they would also feed on Architeuthis within the appropriate range once again also begins to sound more likely.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog does NOT allow anonymous comments. All comments are moderated to filter out abusive and vulgar language and any posts indulging in abusive and insulting language shall be deleted without any further discussion.