The first-ever footage of a freaky-looking squid with huge bulging eyes and eight legs has been captured nearly 3,000ft below the ocean’s surface.
There has never been an official video of the ram’s horn squid in its natural habitat, even though their small shells are regularly found on beaches across the globe.
But now, researchers from the Schmidt Ocean Institute have finally caught it on camera.
The hour-long footage, taken from a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, was live-streamed on YouTube on October 27.
Around 13 minutes in, the extremely elusive alien-like creature appears.
It is seen swimming at a staggering 2,790ft beneath the surface with huge bulging eyes, eight arms and two tentacles.
The team operating the ROV originally had no idea what they were looking at, with one scientist heard exclaiming: “What on Earth?”
Posting a clip of the moment to Twitter, Schmidt Ocean Institute said: “Exciting news! This appears to be the first observation of Spirula, aka ram’s horn squid, alive and in its natural environment.
“Very rarely seen or captured, they have many extinct relatives, but are only living member of genus Spirula, family Spirulidae, and order Spirulida.”
And while capturing the creature on camera was amazing enough, it was the way in which it was swimming that truly astounded experts.
In most aquariums, squid tend to swim with their heads hanging down from their shell as it is the shell that has the buoyancy – but the ram’s horn was captured doing the opposite.
Zoologist Michael Vecchione told Science Alert: “A lot of people are freaking out because the head is up.
“And the reason they’re freaking out is because the shell with its buoyancy is at the other end of the squid. So you’d think the head, which is heavier, would be hanging down.”
One possible explanation is that the squid has a light-generating organ, known as a photophore, located near its shell.
Deep-sea creatures often hunt prey by looking up in the hopes of glimpsing the silhouette of a possible meal.
But to disguise itself, the squid points its photophore downwards so as to wash out their silhouettes with light. If their head was hanging down as most squids in aquariums are, this would not be anywhere near as useful.
At one point in the clip, the squid dashes away and appears to spill ink out into the water.
“That’s interesting because Spirula has the mechanism to make ink but it’s reduced in this species, like other deep-sea species,” Vecchione told ScienceAlert.
“But this suggests it’s functional and they’re using it for defence.”