Squid Empire
December 29, 2019 12:20 PM - by Danna Staaf - Subscribe

Before there were mammals on land, there were dinosaurs. And before there were fish in the sea, there were cephalopods―the ancestors of modern squid and Earth’s first truly substantial animals. Cephalopods became the first creatures to rise from the seafloor, essentially inventing the act of swimming. With dozens of tentacles and formidable shells, they presided over an undersea empire for millions of years. But when fish evolved jaws, the ocean’s former top predator became its most delicious snack. Cephalopods had to step up their game. Many species streamlined their shells and added defensive spines, but these enhancements only provided a brief advantage. Some cephalopods then abandoned the shell entirely, which opened the gates to a flood of evolutionary innovations: masterful camouflage, fin-supplemented jet propulsion, perhaps even dolphin-like intelligence. Squid Empire is an epic adventure spanning hundreds of millions of years, from the marine life of the primordial ocean to the calamari on tonight’s menu. Anyone who enjoys the undersea world―along with all those obsessed with things prehistoric―will be interested in the sometimes enormous, often bizarre creatures that ruled the seas long before the first dinosaurs.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (2 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is a great book about a group of animals most of us don't really think about except as food or bait or as the basis for giant sea monsters of the imagination. Cephalopods are an ancient group of molluscs that have roamed the seas since the late Cambrian and have been a part of the fossil record ever since. Of course, once later cephalopods lost their shells the fossil record gets a little hard to parse. Luckily for us octopuses have beaks and squids have an ear stone called a statolith and... look just read the book it's all fascinating. Come for the Ammonites stay for the Belemnites. Cephalopods rule.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:26 PM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Huzzah, you’re back! I just placed a hold on this at the library, cephalopods are my favorite animals so I can’t wait to read this!
posted by skycrashesdown at 2:51 PM on December 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

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