DEEP-SEA PAGES:
GIGANTISM

Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College


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GIGANTISM: Most animals of the deep are of ordinary size. The ferocious-looking large-fanged viperfish, for example (see MIDWATER page), is typically only a few inches to a foot (30 cm). But an unusual feature of some animals of the deep is known as gigantism: a larger body size than their comparable relatives in shallower waters. For example:

The most famous example of gigantism is of course the GIANT SQUID and the even larger COLLOSAL SQUID; information can be found at: Breaking news Feb. 2012:
Supergiant hadal Amphipod (here being held by one of my students) retrieved by U.Aberdeen/NIWA from 7km in the Kermadec trench
.
amphi giantsupergiant
While we understand why hydrothermal-vent tubeworms can be enormous--they live off of hydrothermal vents which supply practically unlimited energy for bacterial growth--we are not sure how and why some other animals (inhabiting often energy-poor habitats) can get so large.
Examples of large animals that we caught:
(a) = abyssal (2900m); (b) = bathyal (1800-2000m)

Giant grenadier(b)
Albatrossia
pectoralis

Giant cuskeel(a)
Spectrunculus
grandis

Abyssal (a)
Anemone

Seaspider(a)

Big Squid (a?)

Large Hymenaster slimestar (b)
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