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wikipedia "giant squid" article needs fixing

monty

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I was looking at the wikipedia article on giant squids, at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_squid

and found it has a few problems. Wikipedia's whole thing is that they allow, and even encourage, people to edit the articles, but I'm not positive I qualify.

In particular, it says:

One of the more unusual aspects of giant squid (as well as some other species of large squid) is their reliance upon the light weight of ammonia in relation to seawater to maintain neutral buoyancy in their natural environment, as they lack the gas-filled swim bladder that fish use for this function; instead, they use vast numbers of tiny "statocysts" (ammonia-filled cellular structures) throughout their bodies. This makes the giant squid unfit for human consumption, although sperm whales seem to be attracted by its taste.

It's certainly using "statocyst" incorrectly, and I thought the distribution of ammonia (or ammonium chloride) was just mixed in with muscle, not in any sort of cellular structures, but I'm less sure about that... I didn't see any description of the microscopic distribution in

http://www.tonmo.com/science/public/giantsquidbuoyancy.pdf

Anyway, it might be a good public service for one of the real teuthologists to go over the wikipedia page. Probably adding http://www.tonmo.com/science/public/giantsquidfacts.php to the links section would be good, too...
 
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I would start ranting if I wasn't so tired right now.
Pathetic job those folks are doing, isn't it? Of course, giant squid awareness isn't their top priority, eh?

-Squidman-
 
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Monty, if you are able to identify that statocyst has been misused, you probably qualify, certainly moreso than the original author. Have at it, with a reference to the squid papers here! Those papers and the physiology forum are resource materials.

Melissa
 

monty

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Melissa said:
Monty, if you are able to identify that statocyst has been misused, you probably qualify, certainly moreso than the original author. Have at it, with a reference to the squid papers here! Those papers and the physiology forum are resource materials.
Melissa

Well, I thought about it, but my concern was I don't know what the right answer is-- is the ammonia (or ammonium chloride) really distributed in little chambers (presumably called something other than statocyst)? Or is it just "dissolved" around the flesh? And what mechanism keeps the balance between sodium chloride and ammonium chloride to maintain neutral bouyancy? Is it some sort of ion pump, like in nerves? Is it neurally controlled? Is it a chemical reaction? The TONMO science article says it's not uniformly distributed, so what causes it to be inhomogeneous?

It seems like I only know enough to remove most of the paragraph... not fill in the right answer! Maybe some of that, no one knows, but I bet several people on TONMO know most of it...
 
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Sorry folks, gotta disagree here -

You know, I wouldn't call this "pathetic" but rather a good start. The current academic shots being taken at Wikipedia belittle its main purpose; the free exchange of knowledge between interested parties. I would argue that this attack is anathema to what science is supposed to be. And there is a serious danger to simply dismissing knowledge by "non-academics".

That being said, and while I don't see too much bad information being tossed around here, please remember that this is not an established scientific journal. Being that they actually actively encourage people to write in and submit changes to observed errata, we should take full advantage of that opportunity to improve this free online database.

IN ADDITION keep this in mind: Scientific papers are not gospel either. I have seen a lot of errors in logic, methods, and observation that got through the legions of peer reviewers. If you having something "new" to add, do so. Stick it to the 'the man' if you are able.

Now... as far as the ammonium ion concentration goes, I would also disagree with the statocysts idea that the author points out. I was thinking specialized ion-storing vacuoles within the cells in the mantle, though as to which cells, I cannot suppose. Steve O's papers shed a little light on the concentration gradient across the whole animal, but not into which cells stored the ions and the mechanisms by which those ions are stored. Specialized vacuoles are generally the rule at the cellular level, though don't hold me to that, 'cause these puppies are some gnarly beasties.

Just my two cents.

John
 
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monty said:
Well, I thought about it, but my concern was I don't know what the right answer is-- is the ammonia (or ammonium chloride) really distributed in little chambers (presumably called something other than statocyst)? Or is it just "dissolved" around the flesh? And what mechanism keeps the balance between sodium chloride and ammonium chloride to maintain neutral bouyancy? Is it some sort of ion pump, like in nerves? Is it neurally controlled? Is it a chemical reaction? The TONMO science article says it's not uniformly distributed, so what causes it to be inhomogeneous?

It seems like I only know enough to remove most of the paragraph... not fill in the right answer! Maybe some of that, no one knows, but I bet several people on TONMO know most of it...

Monty,

BTW, these questions are brilliant! You rule! :read:

John
 
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I want to echo everything John wrote above - about need for mainstream (not academic) resources, the risks of leaving the dissemination of information to academics, the fact that there are errors in academe, and the value of an engaged populace. Monty, here I really mean you and other wikipedia readers and contributors. I edit and write a lot of academic and research stuff - new blood is always needed!

I'll leave the ammonium ion questions to you who know better, like Monty and Steve and John.

Melissa
 

monty

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Fujisawas Sake said:
Monty,
BTW, these questions are brilliant! You rule! :read:
John

Nah. I'm just creatively ignorant... but thanks!

I'm wondering, if I had a giant squid, how I would answer some of those questions, but I'm assuming someone (likely SOS or Kat) who actually has a specimen to apply them to has thought about this a lot more than I have...

probably the right person to update the wikipedia page would have a copy of this:

Voight J.R., Portner H.O. and R.K. O'Dor 1994. A review of ammonia-mediated buoyancy in squids (Cephalopoda: Teuthoidea). Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology. 25 : pp.193-203

Weirdly, this is the only buoyancy article I got in CephBase when I searched on ammonia-- the rest were just about excretion.

Now that I've gotten a curious about it, I find that while Caltech theoretically has an online access subscription to that journal, I get a JOURNALNOTFOUND error... argh!
 

monty

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Melissa said:
I want to echo everything John wrote above - about need for mainstream (not academic) resources, the risks of leaving the dissemination of information to academics, the fact that there are errors in academe, and the value of an engaged populace. Monty, here I really mean you and other wikipedia readers and contributors. I edit and write a lot of academic and research stuff - new blood is always needed!

I'll leave the ammonium ion questions to you who know better, like Monty and Steve and John.

Melissa

I certainly agree that wikipedia is a good thing, and that in general making knowledge available to the layman is a great thing... On the other hand, I have a strong personal frustration with inaccurate information in references, particularly when it's presented as undisputed fact. It seems (to me) like a lot of popular science stuff and pre-college teaching pushes things as "the whole truth" that are either wrong or incomplete, and I think this does a disservice, if not to the average public viewer, at least to the people who want to learn more, and then realize that a lot of what they learned initially turns out to be wrong.

Of course, I've had a counterpoint view from a friend of mine who is a museum exhibit science writer, who says that studies have shown that putting more than 50 words worth of info in a display drives people (or "average people" or something) away, so she feels that oversimpification is something of a necessary evil that comes with the territory. I worry that this is a case of "aiming at ONLY the average person," and that there could be a way to present things so that the average person gets it, while the non-average person can learn more details or clarification, but maybe the studies have shown somehow that this is impossible.

Anyway, I try to keep reminding myself of what I don't know as well as what I do, which probably makes me rambling and pedantic sometimes, but also makes me feel like I'm not misrepresenting much. So, I'm reluctant to put stuff I don't really know into wikipedia, even though I know the theory is that that would be self-corrected out.

But, maybe I should just edit the particular part that I know is wrong, about the statocyst, and maybe add a link to the archie and messie fact sheet... I just figured since there are real experts around, it would be doing wikipedia a service to have someone who knows more than I do check the stuff s/he would know off the top of his/her head, but I have no clue about...
 
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Hi Monty

No one means to pressure you - it's encouragement. :wink:

monty said:
Anyway, I try to keep reminding myself of what I don't know as well as what I do, which probably makes me rambling and pedantic sometimes, but also makes me feel like I'm not misrepresenting much. So, I'm reluctant to put stuff I don't really know into wikipedia, even though I know the theory is that that would be self-corrected out.

But, maybe I should just edit the particular part that I know is wrong, about the statocyst, and maybe add a link to the archie and messie fact sheet... I just figured since there are real experts around, it would be doing wikipedia a service to have someone who knows more than I do check the stuff s/he would know off the top of his/her head, but I have no clue about...

The fact that you think about what you do not know makes you an even better person to do something like this. You might not be offended when someone makes it better. "Real" experts should be happy that someone has corrected some inaccuracies - and learned from their work.

Melissa
 

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