A gigantic vampire squid-like creature called Tusoteuthis vampyrus will be terrorising the seas of Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] soon. Well, soonish. A newly published Dino Dossier for the creature shows it wrestling with an unwilling ichthyosaurus and brandishing clawed tentacles.
Here's what the developers have to say about Tusoteuthis vampyrus:
Wild Tusoteuthis vampyrus is a very aggressive water predator. Approximately 30 feet long, Tusoteuthis is the terror of the deep. Once it grabs its prey, it slowly crushes it into submission while using the talons on its tentacles to siphon and drain the victim of blood.
Tusoteuthis is a terrifying opponent for several reasons. Firstly, its grab slowly renders its victim unconscious, so death isn't the first concern. Secondly, its vampiric blood drain instantly revitalises it even during combat. And finally, if Tusoteuthis is losing a fight, it sprays a cloud of ink into the water around it, blindinf its attacker to cover a sneaky escape.
Once tamed you can harvest its oily ink and refine it to produce gasoline.
Here is the part where I talk to you about squid IRL because I am excited about them and I have a book about them.
Tusoteuthis is a real genus of cephalopod molluscs from the Cretaceous period. It comprises one known species (Tusoteuthis longa) which probably nibbled other sea creatures but gave no indication of bloodthirsty strangling adventures. That said, there is a vampiric connection as Tusoteuthis is thought the be related more closely to vampire squid than it is to modern giant squid.
Vampire squid are interesting because they occupy a taxonomic space somewhere between a squid and an octopus. They are also interesting for how inappropriately dramatic their name is. Writing in the early twentieth century, author William Beebe once described them as "a very small but terrible octopus, black as night with ivory white jaws and blood red eyes". Their name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis, translates as "vampire squid from hell".
As Wendy Williams points out in her book, Kraken, "Recent undersea videos show us a vampire that's more like a wallflower or a shrinking violet than a demon from hell. Rather than fight, the beleaguered squid sometimes wraps itself up in its own arms so that it looks likd of like a deep-sea tumbleweed. It may cavort and tumble in the water until a confused predator gives up. If that doesn't work, the squid might distract its enemy by ejecting clouds of ink filled with glowing particles."
I also like this analysis of a metaphor in Rolling Stone by a Wikipedia editor:
"A 2009 Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi likened investment bank Goldman Sachs to "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." Although the metaphor was faulty, since vampire squids do not suck blood or have a "blood funnel", it was later used by other critics of Goldman Sachs, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement."
There are a whole bunch of other Dino Dossiers in the pending queue for ARK: Survival Evolved so quite when Tusoteuthis is going to swim onto the scene is unclear. The more immediate future promises competitive multiplayer mode "Survival of the Fittest" and the ability to build things on top of your brontosaurus or plesiosaur. So that's nice.