This was a fascinating story and shows how much we still have to learn about the variations within a species. Marine biologists are having to constantly revise groupings of sea creatures, which makes it very difficult when learning genus and species names and then expecting them to still be relevant 10 years later.

Biodiversity Revolution

I’m pretty fond of all things squiddly, so I was concerned that Nature has a post this week about the low biodiversity of the giant squid – it seems that the giant squid (Architeuthis) are all one species, all around the world.

This points to a near-extinction event in their fairly recent past, say the researchers, although the cause of this event is still unknown. As the article says, “the diversity of Architeuthis is lower than that for any other marine animal, except one — the basking shark Cetorhinus maximus, whose current population is thought to have rebounded from a small number of individuals.

Finding the reasons why the giant squid and the basking shark almost died out, and what allowed them to recover, would give a clue to the nature of ocean life in the past, as well as providing invaluable information for biologists…

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About oceanicexplorer

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Posted on March 22, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Alison Jobling

    I’m glad you liked the post. It’s a pretty intriguing idea, in that the architeuthis teeters on the brink of extinction, given the lack of species variability, but there have been some interesting things done in increasing species diversity recently (I think one of our blog posts discussed it, but I can’t find it at the moment).

    But with regard to the taxonomy, perhaps DNA barcoding will help to stabilise that – it would provide precise information about species/genus relationships without having to rely on other features.

    • this may be way-out but recent studies in Australia have been aimed at reviving an extinct frog species by embryonic cloning. http://www.science.unsw.edu.au/news/research-bid-revive-extinct-gastric-brooding-frog
      If this is successful at breeding extinct animals, it could be used to boost dwindling populations of architeuthis – though how easy it is to source their DNA from live specimens is another matter

      • Alison Jobling

        Yes, I read about the cloning of the gastric brooding frog. But I suspect that the architeuthis may have other problems facing them as well: there have been indications that their environment and food sources are becoming compromised, which apparently is one of the reasons why there have been so many (comparatively) dead ones available for study.

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