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Alien Squid Alert! The Giant Magnapinna Squid Has Elbows & No One Knows Why

It's haunting the waters 4,000 feet below.


Deep-sea fish are often called aliens because they look so unlike surface species. They're often glowing, have giant teeth or are super-sized (or all three a once and then some).

But the magnapinna squid truly does look like an alien.

magnapinna squid

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It has 10 long tentacles, elbows and giant flapping fins. (That's what magnapinna squid means: bigfin squid.)

There have been precious few sightings over the years — the genus wasn't even founded until 1998 — but 2007 footage taken from a deep-sea oil ROV is what truly gives this cephalopod its alien reputation.

Check out the creepy clip below:

Keep in mind: The quick darting back and forth is just the camera lens moving, not the squid zipping around that fast. And it's not that glowing green color either. Although, the camera work certainly adds to the otherworldly vibe these animals give.

Here's a more realistic view of what they look like in footage from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute:

Its long tentacles dwarf its small body by 15 to 20 times, according to the Daily Mail. And, they bend at the top, giving it the appearance of having sharp elbows.

Scientists are divided as to what these tentacles are used for, per NatGeo.

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Bruce Robison, a deep-sea biologist at MBARI told NatGeo, "Judging from [the] structure, we think the animal feeds by dragging its arms and the ends of its tentacles along the seafloor as it drifts slowly above it." He thought the elbows were used to keep the tentacles from getting tangled as they dragged.

But, squid biologist Michael Vecchione with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had a different theory. He thought the long tentacles just sat passively until something bumped into them and got trapped.

Feeding has never been captured on camera, so for now all theories can exist until proven otherwise.

One thing is for sure: This long squid is unlike any other.

magnapinna squid

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As Daily Mail reported, squids usually have eight long tentacles and two short arms — but magnapinna squids have 10 tentacles all the same length that can reach up to 26 feet long.

Scientists don't know much else about the creature, which has been sighted around 4,000 feet deep in what's called the "permanently dark zone of the ocean," according to NatGeo.

There are four recognized species that differ only slightly in tentacle structure in observed juveniles. The little differences between them made it impossible for scientists to tell which of the four this adult squid was from in the "alien" footage.

But, you don't need to know what something is to be in awe (and a little scared) of it.

Let's just say, if Hollywood needs a new scary movie topic, this giant, elbowed alien squid could be a good inspiration.

magnapinna squid

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