Edward Cullen. In case you don’t know, he’s a fictional character in the popular Twilight series written by Stephenie Meyer. And he’s a vampire. Being the living dead, he’s got some fancy skills, like being telepathic, having superhuman strength, not having to breath or sleep, and having a tendency to sparkle excessively when exposed to sunlight. He has millions of obsessive ‘Twihard’ fans, presumably swept away by his awesome (mythical) abilities. But is he really the most bad-ass vampire there is?
Enter Vampyroteuthis infernalis, which literally means ‘the vampire squid from Hell’. Known as a ‘phylogenetic relic’, these are the only surviving members of their order. Part octopus, part squid, and able to glow pale blue at will, these mysterious beasts linger on between the twilight and midnight zones of the worlds tropical and temperate oceans. The oxygen saturation levels can be as low as 3% in these pitch-black depths, so low that most other marine animals would not be able to breath. Like all cephalopods, the vampire squid has three hearts and no bones. When attacked, instead of ejecting ink like most ‘normal’ squids, the vampire squid squirt out a sticky cloud of glowing orbs into the face of their assailant. Despite their name, they don’t actually drink the blood of their helpless victims, and appear to feed on ‘marine snow’, the rain of detritus filtering down from the world of light above.
So, make-believe pretty-boy bloodsucker who reads minds and sparkles in the sunlight, or genuine 3-hearted freak which shoots glowing goo and sparkles in the depths of our very own oceans? I know which I find more extraordinary…
- Yinika Perston