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Encyclopedia > Spirula
Ram's Horn Squid

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Subclass: Coleoidea
Superorder: Decapodiformes
Order: Spirulida
Stolley, 1919
Family: Spirulidae
Owen, 1836
Genus: Spirula
Lamarck, 1799
Species: S. spirula
Binomial name
Spirula spirula
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Ram's Horn Squid (Spirula spirula) is a unique and peculiar species of mollusc which constitutes a family (Spirulidae) and order (Spirulida) by itself. Live specimens are very rare because they are deep dwellers. It is also known as Little Post Horn Squid or simply by its genus Spirula.


Description

Spirula have a squid-like body between 35 mm and 45 mm long. They are decapods, with 8 arms and 2 longer tentacles, all with suckers. The arms and tentacles can all be withdrawn completely into the mantle. The most distinctive feature is the buoyancy chamber, an internal shell in the shape of an open planispiral (a flat spiral where the coils do not touch each other). The chamber keeps the spirula in a vertical, head-down attitude. The posterior also contains a light-emitting organ that can glow for hours at a time.


Habitat

Spirula inhabit continental slopes with water depths of 1000 - 2000 metres. By day they dwell at a depth of 550 - 700 metres and sometimes as deep as 1000 metres. By night, they rise to a depth of 100-300 metres.


Distribution

Most sources cite them as tropical, and they are observed to be plentiful in the seas around the Canary Islands. However, significant quantities of shells from dead spirula are washed ashore in temperate regions, such as the western coasts of South Africa and New Zealand. These have possibly been carried long distances by ocean currents.


  Results from FactBites:
 
Spirula (255 words)
Spirula is a unique and peculiar species of mollusc which constitutes a family by itself.
Spirula have a squid-like body between 35mm and 45 mm long.
However, significant quantities of shells from dead spirula are washed ashore in temperate regions, such as the western coasts of South Africa and New Zealand.
Spirula spirula (1183 words)
Spirula spirula is a small, muscular species (45 mm ML) found in mesopelagic waters of the tropical open ocean.
Spirula carries an unusual internal shell that is calcareous and has the shape of a horn coiled in a single plane without the coils touching one another (open planispiral).
Clarke (1969) found that Spirula occurs at depths between 550 and 1000 m during the day (peak distribution is at 600-700 m) and at night migrates into the upper 100-300 m (peak at 200-300 m).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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