Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Vampire Squids May Be Immortal, Study Reveals

Vampire squid

(Photo : MBARI) Vampire squid don't release all their eggs in one shot like most cephalopods.

New research suggests vampire squids have multiple reproductive cycles and long life spans.

Discovered more than 100 years ago, these deep-sea creatures are called "Vampyroteuthis infernalis", which translates to "vampire squid of hell". This creature is a true deep-sea relic.

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Dr. Henk-Jan Hoving of the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel was observing decades-old vampire squid collections at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History when he noticed something unusual.

Researchers report deep-sea squids have a reproductive strategy unlike any ever seen before in an octopus or squid. Unlike their close relatives, vampire squids don't have all their eggs spawn in one, high-energy burst.

They have multiple reproductive cycles. It probably means they live their entire lives a little differently from cephalopods in shallow waters.

"The pace of life in vampire squid is likely slower due to their low metabolic rates, low calorie food intake and inactive mode of life. It could be that vampire squid cannot mobilize enough energy for one reproductive cycle - as other semelparous coleoid cephalopods can - to provide enough eggs to ensure lifetime reproductive success," said Hoving.

According to the study, Vampire squid can live nearly two miles beneath the surface. A single vampire squid might spawn over 100 times in its lifetime. And longer reproductive cycles usually mean longer life.

Hoving believes vampire squids might have their slow metabolisms to thank for their reproductive uniqueness. Unlike many cephalopods, vampire squids don't actively hunt for food.

They rely on tiny particles of plankton and marine snow, and consume far fewer calories than species near the surface. They probably lack the energy to release fertile eggs all in one go, but their slow pace may also keep them alive longer.

Details of the study appeared in the journal Current Biology.

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