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Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

Potential enhanced ability of giant squid to detect sperm whales is an exaptation tied to their large body size

Lars Schmitz1*, Ryosuke Motani2, Christopher E Oufiero3, Christopher H Martin4, Matthew D McGee5 and Peter C Wainwright5

Author Affiliations

1 W.M. Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna College, Pitzer College, and Scripps College, Claremont, CA 91711, USA

2 Department of Geology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

3 Department of Biological Sciences, Towson University, Towson, MD 21252, USA

4 Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy & Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

5 Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2013, 13:226  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-226

Published: 15 October 2013

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that sperm whale predation is the driver of eye size evolution in giant squid. Given that the eyes of giant squid have the size expected for a squid this big, it is likely that any enhanced ability of giant squid to detect whales is an exaptation tied to their body size. Future studies should target the mechanism behind the evolution of large body size, not eye size. Reconstructions of the evolutionary history of selective regime, eye size, optical performance, and body size will improve the understanding of the evolution of large eyes in large ocean animals.

Keywords:
Giant squid; Sperm whale; Eye size; Optical function; Scaling; Allometry; Adaptation; Exaptation