Mar 06, 2012 I Micah Hanks

Travel of the Tentacular Kind: Return of the Sky Squids!

Ah, sweet wonderful nature, and its many mysteries... in the last couple of years, biologists and the curious-minded among us have been treated to a number of strange and incredible new realities amidst the animal kingdom. Take, for instance, how chimpanzees in certain remote parts of the world not only defy stereotypes by swimming and grieving over their recently deceased, but they also utilize tools in various capacities... all of which have caused humans to have to redefine the elements that constitute what we call "culture."

Among the many mysteries of the animal kingdom that we're made privy to on a frequent basis, we can no add another curiosity to the list in the realm of the cephalopod: specifically, we're talking about squids that not only swim, but can travel like rockets through the air at five times the speed they can move through water!

 A recent Discovery News article detailed the findings of cephalopod experts Ronald O’Dor and Julia Stewart, who have cataloged the way that a particular variety of squid known as Sthenoteuthis pteropus can become airborne by forcibly projecting water from their bodies, which literally allows them to fly for remarkable distances through the air, much like little water-propelled rockets.

According to the Discovery News article,

Tourists on a cruise ship off the coast of Brazil captured the first photographic evidence of the flying squid phenomenon back in 2010. But this study marks the first time anyone has analyzed the photos and compared the results to what biologists already know about swimming squid, which is D'Odor's expertise.

Each of 17 remarkable tourist photos of Sthenoteuthis pteropus clearly show the trail of water behind each airborne squid.

To view the photos of squids in flight, click here.

This remarkable study brings to mind something else of interest, however. Nearly four years ago back in 2008, I blogged about what I called a "Sky Squid" filmed over Mexico City. The strange object was, rather obviously, a bunch of Mylar balloons tied together, tumbling about as the wind carried them through the air... but back in those days, I hadn't learned yet that referring to obvious hoaxes as airborne cephalopods would incite the rage and fury of the hard-assed skeptics out there. Hence, I was later forced to point out that my allusions to a "sky squid" had been somewhat tongue-in-cheek, despite my secret desire that there might actually be monstrous Lovecraftian Chthuloids drifting around in our upper atmosphere.

Alas, though such Horrors of the Heights don't actually exist, I'm nonetheless cheered by the realization that squids do, in fact, fly through the air like rockets, after all. Hey, who would have thunk it?

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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