10 limbs for hugging!

The Christian Science Monitor (reprinting LiveScience) has published the greatest science headline I think I’ve ever read:

School-bus sized squid actually quite friendly, study finds.

The colossal squid, with its half-ton mass and razor-sharp tentacle hooks, seems pretty fierce. But new research suggests that the school-bus sized cephalopods are actually pretty mellow.

Not only that, but the story’s pretty interesting. I mean, we already knew smaller cephalopods (like the octopus) are pretty brainy animals. But the colossal squid has got it all figured out:

This new view of the colossal squid comes from data analysis made by marine biologists Rui Rosa, of the University of Lisboa, Portugal, and Brad Seibel, of the University of Rhode Island[, who] looked at the relationship between metabolism (how the body’s cells turn food into energy) and body size for smaller squids in the same family and used the information to predict the metabolism of the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni).

Contrary to the image of Kraken-like shellfish attacking ships and dragging sailors to their deaths, this new data paints a picture of a mostly sedentary creature, Rosa said. Rather than swimming after prey, the colossal squid would wait to ambush passing fish.

And if the colossal squid consumed and expended less energy than previous thought, as this data indicates, then biologists will also need to reevaluate the squid’s role as whale food, Rosa said.

“Because the squid is more cold-blooded than we thought, they are not really that nutritious,” Rosa said.

OK, maybe “friendly” is a wee bit of an overstatement. But, you know, chill.