Big Squid Hunt: Can I Borrow Your Pen?
Well, this is it. Our big squid hunt finally draws to a close. Our last stop was in Boulder to visit the collections at the University of Colorado. There we were greeted by a most helpful collections manager of invertebrate paleontology. As in Manitoba, we warned her we were coming, so the squid pens were out and ready for the sampling.
Turns out most of their squid pens were actually collected from Wyoming. Hmmm…Wyoming, why not oming? Sounds like we might need to do another squid hunt next year? We did our sampling thing and came away with 6 more squid parts to destroy. Woo Hoo! If you’re counting along, that makes the total approximately thirty squid pen parts for our project. We should be able to finally figure out the answer to the question, why do these big squid pens preserve? With all these pens to destroy and analyze, it might take a while and may lead to other questions, but hey that’s what the scientific process is all about.
Before we said adios to Colorado, we stopped in at their museum and at the actual collections area to see two very unique specimens. The first, a large fish fossil with a squid pen stuck in its gullet. The second, a large squid pen that looks like it broke its rachis then repaired it in life. Both specimens raised more questions before we even had a chance to start answering our original question. First, if a squid pen is completely chitinous and flexible, why would the fish choke to death on it? Second, how did a squid with what appears to be a broken pen, survive long enough to repair itself? Don’t they need their pens for jet propulsion? Must have been one gimpy squid! Ah, science…there are always more questions to be answered.
So many things to ponder on our long drive back to Bozeman, Montana where I will bid a fond farewell to Dan, my cohort in squid ventures and I will hop a flight back to Raleigh.
Before we go, here’s the squid hunt by the numbers: A million thanks to our colleagues, John Hoganson (North Dakota), Joseph Hatcher (Manitoba), Mike Everhart (Kansas) and Talia Karim (Colorado) and all the others we’ve met along the way. We drove ~2000 miles, wore ~ 26 pairs of underwear (there are two of us), sampled ~30 squid pens and found ~ 4 different genera of fish. This hunt took us 13 days, through 8 states, 2 countries and 1 bottle of Kraken rum.
So as the sun sets over the Motel 6, we say au revoir from the big squid hunt. We’re tired but very happy with how the whole thing turned out. Hope you enjoyed travelling along with us.