Squid beak variation (and stuff)

Steve O'Shea

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Kat has sent me pics of the type specimen of Mesonychoteuthis (the one that Robson himself based the description of the species on - WOW!), and of the beaks, but I don't want to post them online yet because she should do that (don't want to do anything that might jeopardise me ever getting my Neil newspaper clipping back :goofysca: ). It's way cool to see it, after all of this time!

I can't believe that you were with her there at the BM, behind the scenes (where few ever get to go), and that thing was sitting in a tub behind you and you didn't see it :roflmao: I'll just have to come over one of these days, have a few beers, then go take a peek at it together.
 

Steve O'Shea

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Well, bit of a buzz for me. Was sorting through the contents of whale # 10, actually the first stomach I received years ago (the one with all of the Mesonychoteuthis beaks in it, and the heavily scored hide), a male that stranded several years ago on the East Coast of NZ (rather than the West, where all of 1-9 have stranded over the past year).

One of the very last beaks I extracted was a minute/juvenile Architeuthis, with a lower rostral length (LRL) of 4.5mm. To give you some indication of scale I have placed it next to a mature female lower beak of LRL 18mm, and to a sharpened pencil lead.

Malcolm Clarke has earlier reported juvenile Architeuthis in the stomachs of whales caught off Durban (left hand figure, below); I've put a heavy black dot on the axis where the New Zealand and Durban specimens sit on the graphs. I've not encountered one before, so that's kind-of made my last two years!

It is very significant that the juvenile occurs in waters near New Zealand (we've only ever had the paralarvae and adults from these waters); it is also significant that the juvenile Architeuthis has not been identified amongst any stomach sample from the West Coast thus far (though I haven't finished yet).
 

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Steve O'Shea

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One of the most difficult beaks to identify are those of cranchiid squid (Cranchiidae). As there are few illustrations of beaks of these beasts out there I've put a few online here.

This first composite is of Megalocranchia sp., the lower beak from a specimen received late last year from the stomach of a blue shark off northeastern New Zealand. The lower image is a comparison of beaks - the dark, left-hand and incomplete beak taken from the stomach of sperm whale # 10.



And the animal from which this beak came:


Even though this squid was in a pretty bad way (digested and incomplete), the beaks prove invaluable for identification of other samples from whale stomachs. I haven't attached a species name to this animal - it is not a very well known genus, and adults are extremely rare in collections.
 

Steve O'Shea

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I couldn't help myself - they're just so exquisite. Here are a couple of plates of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni beaks throughout their ontogenetic range, all taken from the stomach of Whale # 10.

The juvenile and subadult beaks are all quite brown, the greatest majority lacking wings (these develop at greater rostral length/mantle length).

Larger beaks are quite dark, black, and extensively eroded ...
 

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Steve O'Shea

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You'll not find images like these anywhere else online - they're a TONMO exclusive!

.... even the broken pieces are exquisite
 

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