rivendellrose: (yarn)
[livejournal.com profile] seachanges, these made me think of you:

Cthulhu Mittens.
rivendellrose: (octopus)
So, I'm behind in this whole internet thing due to the wedding and the honeymoon, but here's a good one - have you all heard the story about the prehistoric kraken making self-portraits out of its enemies' bodies?

If that doesn't make you go "huh, WHAT?" then you've probably already read the io9 article linked above. But have you read the actual abstract they link to? No shit, it's an actual abstract written by an actual professor at an actual college for an actual conference. Believe me - I checked. Because I just could not believe this guy was for real. He's even an honest-to-goodness geology professor there, not a wandering professor of philosophy or something who'd got lost and gone to the wrong conference. Or, y'know, even more reasonably, a professor of creative writing. Nope. Actual geology prof. Googling his co-author (and, presumably, wife) turns up mostly the books they've co-authored, and also her Facebook page (oh, age of the internet, how sort of scary you are!)... in which we find out that she is a fan of science fiction, particularly of Firefly (awesome!)... and, less impressively, that she was part of that slightly hare-brained attempt a while ago to help Nathan Fillion buy Firefly. Because that was totally a plausible thing, guys, really. Even though Nathan himself was like "dudes, chill" when he heard people were actually trying to raise money for it. Um. Yeah. Her trustworthiness just went down a bit in my estimation, if you want the honest truth... but hey, everybody can get sucked into a wacky idea from time to time.

...Like, for instance, the idea that a bunch of dead ichthyosaurs were murdered by super-giant squid and intentionally placed in an intentional pattern. No, seriously. Direct quote from the abstract:

We hypothesize that the shonisaurs were killed and carried to the site by an enormous Triassic cephalopod, a “kraken,” with estimated length of approximately 30 m, twice that of the modern Colossal Squid Mesonychoteuthis. In this scenario, shonisaurs were ambushed by a Triassic kraken, drowned, and dumped on a midden like that of a modern octopus. [...] The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait.

I might have been with them up until "The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever..."

The proposed kraken. Because, you see, we don't have any evidence of this kraken. None. At all. We know there are big-ass squid in the ocean now, but they're nowhere near the 30 meters described in this abstract. Likewise for any ancient corollaries. But, okay, things were big in the Triassic! Lots of shit in prehistory was a hell of a lot bigger than what we have today - just look at dragonflies, or millipedes, both known to have ancient corollaries that were frankly gigantic by comparison to their modern counterparts. No problem there. But... okay, not only are we theorizing 30 m squid, but we're also just putting out there that they might've been intentionally killing these shonisaurs and then carefully arranging them in a particular way as a self-portrait? The very first display of self-portraiture (or, in fact, art of any kind) anywhere in the world? I'm the first person to defend the brains of my beloved cephalopods, but even I have to step back at that and say "hold on, not too sure about this."

Looking at this guy's profile on the Mount Holyoke site, I'm thinking he's got a serious penchant for theories that have, to be charitable, minimal basis in reality. I'm not saying that none of them are true - and they'd all make fantastic science fiction! - I'm just saying that I will not be holding my breath for further discoveries regarding the artistic endeavors of 30 meter Triassic squid.

Pity. I'd love to see what kind of city a civilization of giant squid would build.
rivendellrose: (octopus)
Update to my post of last week: Just got a second email from one of the invertebrate biologists at the Seattle Aquarium, and he agrees with my conclusion/fear that our little buddy at the shop near work is, in fact, a Mimic Octopus. Unfortunately, that also means that buying / "rescuing" him would support and encourage the collection of these fine creatures. He's planning to keep an eye on it, though, and will keep us updated if there are further developments.

In a way, I'm pleased about having been right, but in a lot of other ways, I felt better thinking the little guy might actually have been a Lesser Pacific Striped Octopus. I am not thrilled at the knowledge that this little guy got collected for the private collection industry, I'm not happy thinking how many others probably were, too, and I'm really sad that the aquarium can't buy it without supporting the collection of more from the wild.

On the plus side, I can't say enough about how pleased and impressed I've been with the Seattle Aquarium in all of this. They've been very responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable through the whole thing. Kudos to them. ♥
rivendellrose: (octopus 2)
So, The Boy and I were hanging out in the International District this evening, and stopped in on an aquarium shop down there, just to look around... and found what looked an awful lot like a juvenile mimic octopus in a little plastic travel tank set within one of their larger salt water tanks. I'm no expert, and I realize it sounds kind of crazy, but I'm pretty sure there aren't any other species with the features you see on these guys - they're pretty damned distinctive. The little guy was about five inches across, "head" roughly half an inch, arms very long, very thin for an octopus and zebra striped, with little "horn" type features above his eyes and the very peculiar stiff movement style that I've only ever seen from mimic octopi, not any other species.

As awesome as it was to see the little guy (and ohmygod, believe me, I was enthralled) I'm all sad and worried now, very concerned that any buyer they find won't be aware of how big these things get (2 feet, fairly huge for a personal tank / private collector), how to care for them, and that they're pretty delicate in captivity. This article talks some about how delicate they are, as well as why they don't make good pets, and, most importantly, how the pet trade in them is causing real problems for the wild populations.

The Boy and I have both emailed the Seattle Aquarium to let them know about this, and suggest that a rare specimen like this would be far better off in their collection being properly cared for and studied than it would in some random guy's private collection, where it has a good chance of dying within weeks from poor treatment. I don't know if it's even something they can handle, let alone whether or not they would, but we figured it was worth a shot, and better than me sitting around feeling faintly guilty and worried. Everything I've read indicates that they're insanely hard to keep in private collections, extremely delicate, and tend to stress themselves to death or die from improper treatment after only a few weeks in captivity. Short version? I hope I'm wrong about what it was. I hope I totally missed turning up some completely inane species that just happens to look like a mimic. Or I hope that the Seattle Aquarium happens to have received a windfall recently and decides they want to try having a mimic octopus in their collection. :P

eight arms

Feb. 28th, 2011 10:33 pm
rivendellrose: (octopus curly)
In all the hubbub recently, I think I forgot to mention the other project I've been working on. Meet eight-arms.com, AKA Eight Arms Outpost, the other blog I've been sort of running lately. It's more or less a toy project, but it's been giving me a chance every week or so to blog about cephalopods, and I always approve of that.

This week I took a quick-and-easy skeptical look at a news story that came across my Google feed about a deceased giant octopus that washed up on the coast of Syria... and was reported as being 9 meters long and weighing 2 tons. And if you're thinking that sounds awfully big, that's exactly what I thought, too...
rivendellrose: (octopus curly)
Don't worry, the Vatican is ready to baptize aliens if they ask!

It's... good to know that all other, more pressing moral dilemmas have already been solved, I guess?

Is there some kind of contest at the Vatican right now for "most befuddling press release?" or what? I'm guessing this is one of those "any PR (that isn't talking about sex scandals) is good PR" kind of things...

Edited to Add: So... I've been thinking. The Vatican astronomer said:

Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.

Any entity. Any... entity. So either there's a missing adjective there (like, say, 'sentient' or 'self-aware' or something like that), or this is a major change in theology, isn't it? I could have sworn the existing doctrine stated that animals don't have souls. I'm not going to complain, but isn't that going to be a tad bit problematic for them?

Also, I forgot to say that I snagged this link from [livejournal.com profile] deborah_judge, and that it's her fault that I'm now picturing the Pope attempting to baptize Londo. It was the "tentacles" remark.
rivendellrose: (octopus)
Everybody out there who's into cephalopods, octopodes/octopi or really neat creature jewelry in general, you've got to check out these! The artist is one of my dearest friends, and she's doing fabulous stuff over there. ♥

I already snagged one of them (see "Waves" toward the bottom) for myself (I'll try to remember to post pictures sometime soon) and love it to pieces, and I hear several others have sold as well, so if you like one you should move fast - they're all unique!
rivendellrose: (octopus 2)
You guys! FLYING SQUID. Link from [livejournal.com profile] ratzeo.

Is there nothing awesome that my beloved cephalopods can't do? ♥♥♥

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