Deep-Sea Gigantism

giant isopod

In zoology, deep-sea gigantism, also known as abyssal gigantism, is the tendency for species of crustaceans, invertebrates and other deep-sea-dwelling animals to display a larger size than their shallow-water counterparts. Examples of this phenomenon include the giant isopod, the Japanese spider crab, the king of herrings (an oarfish of up to 12 m), the Seven-arm Octopus, and a number of squid species, including the Colossal Squid (up to 14 m in length).

It is not known whether this effect comes about as a result of adaptation for scarcer food resources (therefore delaying sexual maturity and resulting in greater size), greater pressure, or for other reasons. The Blue Planet series posited that larger specimens do well in the abyssal environment due to the advantages in body temperature regulation and a diminished need for constant activity, both inherent in organisms with a lower surface area to mass ratio.

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