Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid

Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid

Wendy Williams

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0810984652

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Kraken is the traditional name for gigantic sea monsters, and this book introduces one of the most charismatic, enigmatic, and curious inhabitants of the sea: the squid. The pages take the reader on a wild narrative ride through the world of squid science and adventure, along the way addressing some riddles about what intelligence is, and what monsters lie in the deep. In addition to squid, both giant and otherwise, Kraken examines other equally enthralling cephalopods, including the octopus and the cuttlefish, and explores their otherworldly abilities, such as camouflage and bioluminescence. Accessible and entertaining, Kraken is also the first substantial volume on the subject in more than a decade and a must for fans of popular science.

Praise for KRAKEN: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid 

"Williams writes with a deft, supple hand as she surveys these spindly, extraordinary beasts and their world. She reminds us that the known world might be considerably larger than in the days of the bestiary-makers, but there is still room for wonder and strangeness."
-Los Angeles

"Williams's account of squid, octopuses, and other cephalopods abounds with both ancient legend and modern science." 

"[Exposes squid's] eerie similarities to the human species, down to eye structure and the all-important brain cell, the neuron." 
-New York Post 

"just the right mix of history and science" 
-ForeWord Reviews

"Kraken is an engaging and expansive biography of a creature that sparks our imagination and stimulates our curiosity. It's a perfect blend of storytelling and science." 
-Vincent Pieribone, author of Aglow in the Dark

KRAKEN extracts pure joy, intellectual exhilaration, and deep wonder from the most unlikely of places--squid. It is hard to read Wendy Williams's luminous account and not feel the thrill of discovery of the utterly profound connections we share with squid and all other living things on the planet. With wit, passion, and skill as a storyteller, Williams has given us a beautiful window into our world and ourselves. --Neil Shubin, author of the national bestseller "Your Inner Fish

Wendy William's KRAKEN weaves vignettes of stories about historical encounters with squid and octopus, with stories of today's scientists who are captivated by these animals. Her compelling book has the power to change your world-view about these creatures of the sea, while telling the gripping, wholly comprehensible story of the ways in which these animals have changed human medical history. --Mark J. Spalding, President, The Ocean Foundation













by squid. It turns out that the vampire squid is our distant cousin, albeit many (many) times removed, and that, curiously, we share a lot of basic biology. Moreover, tantalizing clues hint that some species of squid may be intelligent and capable of learning from experience. We’ve seen that the Humboldt squid, like dolphins, hunt in well-coordinated packs. Cuttlefish communicate with each other in intricate code, using a language of flashing colors and skin patterns. Octopuses build themselves

rotunda beside the 13-foot-tall African bull elephant. Roper claims that, after the Hope Diamond, the giant squid was the museum’s second most popular exhibit. Then the Women’s Christmas Committee decided to have their Christmas party in the rotunda. Not willing to host the smelly squid at their gala gathering, the women decreed: The corroded cadaver had to go. For a while, it sat in the basement. Barney Schlinger, with Papoulias the day the animal washed up on Plum Island, ended up heading a

charged “ions.” When the axon is at rest, the scientists found, there are a lot more positive ions outside the cell than inside the cell. When electricity flows down the axon, some of these ions outside the cell are in fact moving into the cell. When the electrical impulse passes, the ions move back outside. The inside of the axon returns to its original, comparatively negative state. By studying the giant axon of little Loligo, Hodgkin and Huxley had made this profound discovery: Our ability to

way people walking through a dark room might hold out their arms and hands to “feel” their way past obstacles. Some scientists think that this first pair of arms, stretched out, can sense the presence of prey and predators in the surrounding water. Its chemoreceptors do not need to be touching an object in order to do this. It can sense another animal through the water itself. The second pair is used for scrambling, moving over the seafloor and objects like rocks. The third and fourth pairs tend

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