PBS’ “Nature” dives into the true final frontier in its latest episode

Courtesy: PBS

Space, according to some very well known figures, is the final frontier.  But the reality is that while mankind still has much to learn about space, the world beneath the waves of the Earth’s oceans is just as unexplored as evidenced in the new installment of PBS’ Nature series, “Inside Nature’s Giants.”  The most recent installment of “Inside Nature’s Giants” focuses on one of the most fabled of nature’s undersea giants, the Giant Squid.

Comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg and Veterinary Scientist Mark Evans join a research team to try and learn the inner workings of the Giant Squid, and the role that its inner workings play in its life.  The team uses smaller live squid and an octopus in an attempt to discover how the Giant Squid uses its tentacles to hunt.  What they believe happens is that the squid uses two tentacles, which are longer than the rest in order to capture its prey and pull it in and the others to hold it while it eats its prey.  They also state that they believe unlike the smaller squid, the Giant Squid actually uses stealth in its hunting, instead of speed.  They do note that this is purely speculation, though.

The hunting methods of the Giant Squid lead the research team to discuss its defense methods next.  The team compares the defense methods of the octopus to that of the Giant Squid to try and garner some information as to its defense methods.  It is theorized that much like the octopus, the squid is capable of using a speedy escape thanks to its inner workings.  It can “jet away” much like the octopus.

From its hunting and defensive abilities, the research team moves on to the digestive system of the Giant Squid.  It looks at how the squid’s beak works in conjunction with a tongue covered in sharp “teeth.” to eat its prey.  It’s even discovered that the squid’s esophagus actually goes straight through the squid’s brain.

The documentary goes into far more detail in its roughly fifty minute run time than is mentioned here.  It’s a wonderful tool for any teacher or student of the maritime sciences.  It should be noted again that the entire thing is preceded by a warning of the dissection of the squid.  Some viewers may not be able to handle it as easily as others.  The network is to be commended for again including this disclaimer.  Even in the classroom, some people may have weaker stomachs than others.  “Nature’s Giants:  Giant Squid” is available now on DVD.  It can be purchased online at http://www.shoppbs.org.  

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