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A twisted squid, as seen by the NOAA Okeanos Explorer crew

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This twisted squid was, at first, hard to identify because of its unusual, Nautilus-like folded pose, but the NOAA Okeanos Explorer expedition crew was able to get a better look from a different angle. The footage, taken on April 17, 2018 at around 850 meters (2,790 feet) deep in the Gulf of Mexico, have led researchers to wonder if it’s a Discoteuthis discus or a new species of squid. From National Geographic:

“Every time we catch [D. discus], it’s so hard to tell what species it is. I’ve never seen one entire, or in good condition,” says [NOAA biologist Mike] Vecchione. “If that’s what it is, then it’s the first time anybody’s seen one alive.”

The submarine didn’t collect the squid, so for now, biologists must speculate on the creature’s anatomy and behavior. What does the squid eat? Does it bioluminesce, like many deep-sea creatures? And what’s with the animal’s strange posture?

Perhaps the unfamiliar submarine spooked the squid into scrunching up: Researchers say that it’s not unheard of for a squid to adopt a similar posture as a form of defense. However, this mystery squid stands out. “This one was real extreme,” says Vecchione. “A couple of the arms were folded right flat on the back, and a couple were folded underneath, and a couple were sticking out to the side.”

Watch these next: Squid: Coming to Life, captured in microscopic detail, Born Like Stars: An egg-brooding squid and its hatchlings, and The case of the green-eyed squid.

Plus: NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer in the Mariana Trench and NOAA 2013 Expedition: The Rhinochimera.

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