Scientists Are Noticing New Behaviors in Male Squids


| LAST UPDATE 09/10/2021

By Eliza Gray
bigfin reef squid mating
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Over decades of scientific research and observation, male squids haven't exactly developed a golden reputation as mating partners. In most cases, they tend to mate and move on. However, a new study has changed the narrative, and researchers are curious for more answers.

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The dad of the year award has gained a new front-runner, and it's the bigfin reef squid. In past years, their behavior was pretty predictable: male reef squids proved their might by fighting for females to mate with and then fiercely guarded their partner to ensure no other males fertilized her eggs. However, once the female squid laid her eggs, her mating partner typically moved on to mate with other squids. But all that has changed according to the recent findings of Eduardo Sampaio, a renowned biologist.

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During a dive in the Red Sea waters off the coast of Egypt, the researcher laid eyes on an interesting phenomenon: the male squids were scouting out safe locations for his partner to lay her eggs. "We weren't sure what he was doing," Eduardo shared of his findings. "It was something we'd never seen before." Sampaio, who is currently studying at the University of Lisbon and the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, reached out to another expert in the field for a second opinion. And to his surprise, he learned that his findings had been spotted by someone else as well.

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Samantha Cheng, who works at the American Museum of Natural History as a biodiversity scientist, had seen the exact same behavior take place with male bigfin reef squid all the way over in Indonesia back in 2013. The two scientists teamed up and put their research together to coin the term "location probing," which involves male squids scouting good egg hatching zones for his partner. "We have so much more to learn," Eduardo said in amazement of his research.

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For biologists and animal behavior scientists alike, these findings have changed the way bigfin reef squid are being perceived as mating partners and caretakers. Be sure to check back soon for more news and findings from the animal kingdom.