Promachoteuthis sulcus is a rare, strange-looking squid, best known for its human-like teeth. The species was discovered in 2007 when a single, small distinctive individual was caught in the south Atlantic Ocean. Does it have teeth?
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Cephalopoda
- Order: Teuthida
- Family: Promachoteuthidae
- Genus: Promachoteuthis
- Species: Promachoteuthis sulcus
- Conservation Status: Not Assessed
- Common Names: Called the squid with the human-like teeth or something similar, it doesn’t yet have an official common name
Is this real or a hoax?
You are probably thinking that the creature depicted in the picture is not real. Someone with a little knowledge of squids may add that the picture is photo-shopped as this squid-like thing has human-like teeth in the place where a beak should normally be.
Surely, the picture is disturbing and may haunt the dreams of many. So, does this creature exist?
Yes, the squid is real and its scientific name is Promachoteuthis sulcus. Let’s find out more about it.
Promachoteuthis Sulcus Discovery
P. sulcus is a newly discovered species that was recently described by Young, Vecchione, and Roper. We still don’t know much about it, as only one single specimen has ever been examined. All pictures on this article belong to this specimen.
The specimen was caught in 2007, in the open nets of the German research vessel “Walther Herwig”, at a depth of about 2,000 m, somewhere near the Tristan Da Cunha Islands, a remote group of volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean.
As aforementioned, the little knowledge we have for the species comes from a single, immature female, 25 mm (~1 inch) long specimen.
It has eight arms, two large tentacles, and what is seemingly a mouth with human-like dentures. The species is distinguished from related taxa based on numerous morphological features, including:
- The nuchal fusion between the head and mantle
- Arm suckers are way larger compared to club suckers
- The greater width of tentacle base than arm base
- A recessed club base
- The presence of an aboral tentacle groove
What about the teeth and the human-like mouth?
The teeth aren’t teeth but an illusion. What appears to be human dental structures are circular, folded lips, with only the upper and lower portions visible.
Like all squids, P. sulcus has a beak as well, for capturing and chewing prey. The tiny beak is right behind the lips, although it’s not visible in the photos.
Squids often have tough, razor-sharp beaks that they use to chop and chew their prey. P. Sulcus is no exception and does have a small beak, lurking deep inside the mouth, although it is not visible in the photos.
As for the creepy teeth, they are circular, folded lips, with only the upper and lower portions visible.
Is it dangerous?
There is no reason for this strange-looking animal to haunt your dreams. First, the chance of actually seeing one is very small as the species can only be found in great depths.
Second, it is very small. For instance, the 2007 specimen measured only 2,5 cm (1 inch) in length and they don’t grow that much bigger. There is nothing to be afraid of!
This weird, alien-looking creature is scientifically known as Promachoteuthis sulcus. It is a rare, newly discovered deep-sea squid, best known for its seemingly human-like mouth. The species is only known by a single specimen that was caught in 2007, in the nets of the German research vessel “Walther Herwig”, near the Tristan Da Cunha islands, at a depth of 1,750 to 2,000 m (5,740–6,560 ft).
Don’t be frightened by its appearance as it’s a mere inch long! As for the human-like-teeth. Well, sometimes appearances are deceptive. As explained down below, the human-like dentures are something different!
Despite its hideous appearance, Promachoteuthis sulcus poses no threat two humans, for two reasons.
First, it is a deep-sea squid. Seeing one in its natural habitat is highly unlikely. Secondly, the squid is very, very small. The 2007 specimen was barely an inch long, and scientists say they don’t grow to be much bigger.
Interesting Facts About Promachoteuthis Sulcus
The creature has gained a small following as an internet meme, for obvious reasons. There was a time that social media were full of MEME images, like this one:
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- Bigfin squids: Think Promachoteuthis sulcus is scary? Think again! Bigfin squids look a lot like the aliens from the Independence day film! Not to mention that they can get to be at least 7 meters long!
References & Further Reading
- Young, Richard E. and Michael Vecchione. 2007. Promachoteuthis sulcus Young, Vecchione and Roper, 2007. Version 15 November 2007.
- http://tolweb.org/Promachoteuthis_sulcus in The Tree of Life Web Project
- Young, R., Vecchione, M., & Roper, C. (2007). A new genus and three new species of decapodiform cephalopods (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 17 (2-3), 353-365 DOI: 10.1007/s11160-007-9044-z
All images are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License and belong to Richard E. Young.