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

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medicine will be profound. Some investigators, for example, hope to be able to use materials like this to create organic aids to amputees. That’s why species conservation is important—not only because of conservation itself but also because those species are gold mines of possibility. And in order to ensure the survival of these species, scientists must know as much as possible about their needs. “Each species has slightly different requirements for life and for survival,” Roper said. Several

muscles, reading a book, and thinking about science. The second major part of a neuron is the network of dendrites leading into the cell body. Dendrites extend from the cell body like little hairs and are there to absorb information from the world outside the neuron and take it into the cell body for consideration. Dendrites are roughly the equivalent of e-mail in-boxes. Some scientists call dendrites the “antenna systems” of the neuron, because they absorb signals and then send those signals to

scientists seemed contradictory. Too much electricity could, obviously, kill. On the other hand, a jolt of electricity seemed, from Galvani’s experiments with frogs, to give life. How could this be? Scientists proposed the existence of two different kinds of electricity and suggested that the electricity in a frog’s muscle differed in some basic way from the electricity Franklin discovered. The electricity that moved muscles became “animal electricity.” Franklin’s lightning-bolt electricity

If that’s a sign of primary frustration, then we might be well on our way to understanding something more about these animals.” The problem, he said, is that we don’t know enough about the basic natural history and behavior of cephalopods to be able to formulate the right research questions. Without that understanding, we might be asking the wrong questions, or misinterpreting what we see. Early in his research career, Purdy studied shrimp. His research subjects very quickly learned to strike an

ringed with hard, sharp teeth that embed in the flesh of the prey to grasp and shred the victim’s skin and flesh. At the end of the feeding tentacles of the colossal squid are about twenty-five large swivel hooks, each set into a sucker, used to snare prey. Cephalopods live in all the planet’s oceans, except for the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. As a group, they occupy all ocean depths, although individual species may be more restricted in their movements through the water column. When

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