Here is the giant squid and its beak as resistant as it is formidable

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Among the extreme curiosities of Nature, the squid occupies a special place. It indeed combines a host of very astonishing characteristics. Among the latter, its beak therefore the shape is quite close to that of the parrot. In this area, one species in particular attracts attention: the giant squid.

The squid, a curious animal

Squids are marine cephalopods, a morphological group comprising no less than 200 species. However, with ten tentacles and three hearts like the octopus, these marine animals are very curious. They also have a pointed head and a toroidal brain in the shape of a donut, which is further crossed by their esophagus. As if that weren’t enough, squids sport a beak quite similar to that of the parrot.

Among the species of squid, the giant squid (Dosidicus gigas) is surely one of the most intriguing. With its four meters in length for 400 kg maximum, this squid is quite simply the largest of the ommastrephidae family. A born hunter, his suction cups contain thousands of sharp hooks, the appearance of which inevitably inspires fear. Nevertheless, these hooks have the function of phishing its prey and are not the most ruthless characteristic of the animal.

Credit: Javier Rubilar / Flickr

Squid indeed uses his beak to cut the fish and shellfish it feeds on. However, the giant squid is also cannibalistic and therefore sometimes attacks other cephalopods. Its finely sharpened beak overcomes all armor, skins and other flesh. Once cut by this formidable weapon, the food is also shredded small by its radula (a kind of barbed tongue) before continuing its course into the esophagus.

A mouthpiece with an impressive structure

The structure of the beak itself surprises many. Arched, pointed and dark like death, this beak nevertheless has a rather supple base which blends into the animal’s flesh by means of powerful muscles. On the other hand, the end of the beak is a hundred times harder than the base. This hardness gradient allows the squid to grab and bite very hard materials without too much pressure. Thus, no risk of tearing the flesh.

The beak in question is mainly made up of water, protein and chitin. The latter is a glucose derivative forming the exoskeleton of arthropods and other crustaceans. At the base of the beak, water and chitin are the main elements. As you go gradually towards the extremity, there are more and more proteins that contain dopamine.

Resistant and erosion-proof, this beak is sometimes found in the stomachs of other cephalopods and cetaceans after digestion. In addition, divers studying the giant squid should ideally wear a kevlar suit for protection.

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