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Gallery: Vampire Squid from Hell

Vampire of the Deep

Vampire squid with filament extended

(Image credit: Kim Reisenbichler © 2005 MBARI)

Vampyroteuthis infernalis, literally "vampire squid from hell," is a mysterious deep-sea species. Research published in September 2012 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals that these strange animals "fish" for ocean detritus using a long filament appendage, seen here in white.

The Vampire's Mouth

Vampire squid with mouth.

(Image credit: © 2011 MBARI)

Vampire squid get their name from their cloak-like webbed arms. The squid's mouth is at the center of its arm web. Finger-like projections on the arms may help the animal move food to its mouth.

Feeding Vampire Squid

A vampire squid feeding.

(Image credit: (c) 2008 MBARI)

This close-up view shows a vampire squid using its arms to scrape food off of one of its filaments.

Vampire Squid

A feeding vampire squid

(Image credit: (c) 2011 MBARI)

This frame grab from an underwater video shows a vampire squid in a typical feeding position, drifting horizontally in the deep sea with one of its filaments extended.

Vampire Squid Filament

Vampire squid with filament extended

(Image credit: © 2008 MBARI)

Vampire squid have two filaments, but normally only extend one. This passive scavenging strategy allows the squid to survive in low-oxygen areas of the ocean without expending much energy. Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute observed this feeding behavior in the wild and in captive squid.

Vampire Squid

Vampire squid feeding

(Image credit: © 2010 MBAR)

The vampire squid's filament allows it to collect "marine snow," or floating debris. Squid end up chowing down on a mix of dead crustacean bits, larvae and fecal matter.

Vampire Squid

A vampire squid alone on black background

(Image credit: © 2004 MBARI)

According to study researcher Henk-Jan Hoving, the vampire squid is the first known cephalopod not to hunt live prey.

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.