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In these videos:

Soy sauce is poured onto a squid and its tentacles start waving around. Lots of the comments on YouTube as well as reddit state that:

  • The squid is already dead
  • The reason the tentacles move is because of salt, i.e. similar to frogs legs or sannakji.

Most of the mantle has been removed, but if you look at squid anatomy it is possible the brain is still intact.

Is the squid dead or not?

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  • Yuck! That's barbaric, and cruel if the squid actually is alive and reacting to pain! (+1 for a good question, but I'm not sure I have the stomach to return to read the answer.) Nov 24, 2011 at 18:24
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    Whether or not the brain is there is somewhat irrelevant to determining whether it's dead. Organisms as complex as starfish do not have brains but are still alive. On the other hand, I suspect most animals keep their brains more or less attached long after death. And even for organisms that normally have brains, most of it can be removed while the remainder of the biological systems continue working normally, a state most people would identify as "alive."
    – user792
    Nov 25, 2011 at 22:36

2 Answers 2

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It's hard to source these claims scientifically, but let me try anyways.

In the following picture, the brain is below the tentacles and the eyes: A Squid (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cephalop.jpg)

In all of the mentioned movies that part is gone.

The brain is gone in all of the videos, so the squid is definitely dead. So why does it move its legs? Just recently, Dan Lewis from "Know I Know" described why:

[...] The squid’s cells still contain some unused adenosine triphosphate (or ATP), which powers muscular contraction and expansion and, therefore, movement. But ATP can’t simply act on its own accord — it needs something to make it go. Typically, that’s provided by the central nervous system, which, through electrical impulses, causes the ATP to do its thing. With no brain involved, the ATP just sits dormant, and, over time, dissipates, as the now-dying cell fails to create new ATP.

But the soy sauce makes the typical atypical. Soy sauce contains sodium and potassium. The sodium and potassium ions together work as a trigger of sorts, causing the ATP to contract and expand the muscles. The result: a dead, dancing squid headlining (and, perhaps, ruining) your meal.

(Source: http://dlewis.net/nik-archives/dead-squid-dancing/)

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  • +1 for an excellent explanation that also puts my mind at ease knowing that the creature isn't feeling pain. (I returned on an empty stomach just in case though.) Nov 25, 2011 at 8:31
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    I found the "above the eyes" comment confusing, given the unlabeled picture was "upside down" (if that is a sensible concept for a squid).
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 25, 2011 at 11:45
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    You are of course right. I rephrased that sentence so it makes more sense given the picture. Nov 25, 2011 at 12:50
  • @Andreas, thanks very much - I've been trying to find an anatomical diagram which supports what you've said but not been able..
    – user5194
    Nov 25, 2011 at 13:10
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    This answer doesn't source the assertion of where the brain is located. All the diagrams I've been able to locate show the brain directly between the eyes, and I don't see evidence the food preparation removes that part. Feb 5, 2017 at 13:04
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Here is an MRI of a cuttlefish. Many people seem to mistake its body for its "head", since the tentacles look like legs, so the opposite of the "legs" must be the head, but the portion that is removed in the videos actually contains things like stomach, heart, etc. The brain is located between the eyes, so unless it was removed some other way it would seem to be there: http://csi.whoi.edu/media/cuttlefish2D

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    Welcome to Skeptics! This reference is asking a lot of the reader. I am not able to recognise the brain in that scan. Are you able to find some anatomical diagrams that explain what we are looking at?
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 3, 2017 at 7:07
  • Hmm, the video isn't animating for me. Is that part of the problem?
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 3, 2017 at 7:08
  • I would also find this more on-point if it explained why the question says squid but this answer says cuttlefish. And in general, you might find the answer more effective if it took images from the original video and drew circles marked "brain here", etc.
    – Brythan
    Sep 3, 2017 at 7:12
  • The 'answer' also does not explicitly yes or no.
    – user22865
    Sep 3, 2017 at 8:41

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