The Squid is an important member of the Cephalopoda, (1) or head-footed molluscs. Let's have that understood from the start. The Squid and the Octopus are not at all the same animal, although one of my best friends insists that they are. I know all kinds of people. Both the Squid and the Octopus swim backwards and squirt ink, but that's not the whole story. The Squid has a streamlined, cylindrical body and ten arms, while the Octopus has only eight arms and his figure is simply a mess. Two of the Squid's arms are for grabbing things at a distance, and the rest are for grabbing things closer. Why we did not develop in this way is surprising. Long, long ago, the Squid possessed an external skeleton, or shell, which he changed to an internal skeleton in order to improve his swimming. (2) This is a difficult trick. It has to be done gradually or you run into trouble. Then he reduced his new skeleton until now it is only a slender, horny vestige of no use to anyone. The Cuttlefish, a cousin of the Squid, has a similar remnant containing carbonate of lime, so at least it is good for Canaries. (3) Like all the other Cephalopoda, Squids employ jet propulsion for greater speed. They have done this for millions of years and they are still using water for power, imagine! They've never ever heard of the machine age. (4) When he is after a fish, the Squid drives himself backwards at about 10 m.p.h. by squirting water straight ahead from a gadget in his neck. Since he cannot keep his eye on Point A, where the fish was when he saw it, he soon arrives at Point B and catches another fish altogether. Or it could be the same fish, who swam from Point A for no reason. (5) This is the technique of fishing backwards. The Giant Squid is gigantic. The Common Squid is less than a foot long. Common Squids feel wonderful in the spring. (6) They get together on nights when the moon is full and whiz backwards, facing the bright light and pumping water from their necks like mad. They often forget to stop the machinery as they approach the shore and find themselves aground on the beaches. Moral: You can't be too careful.
1. Pronounced as you like, or you might try getting used to Ceph'-a-lop'-o-da, favored by Webster - saves you from doing it differently every time.
2. Olympic swimmers never have external skeletons.
3. Cuttle bone just happened to work out that way. Cuttlefish never heard of canaries.
4. Wallbridge states: 'The squid has missed having what might be called a brain only by the narrowest of margins.' A miss is as good as a mile, Wallbridge.
5. As a rule fish in their native element do not remain stationary for any length of time, especially when something is chasing them.
6. Wallbridge reports that the captive Squids studied by him were monogamous. Of course, there were only two in the tank.
A miss is as good as a mile, Wallbridge.