SCIENCE

'Dancing Squid' Phenomenon: How Soy Sauce Brings A Dead Creature Back To 'Life' (VIDEO)

02/12/2013 11:21 am ET

Soy sauce may be able to revive a dull dish, but it hardly has the ability bring dead things back to life. Yet, that's exactly what the condiment appears to do in a GIF recently posted on Reddit.

Borrowed from a 2010 Youtube video, the GIF shows a cuttlefish seemingly coming back to life when soy sauce is poured atop it. The cephalopod's body lifts up and writhes in the bowl, prompting viewers to ask: Is it really dead?

Indeed, the cuttlefish in the video -- part of a seafood dish named odori-don -- is no longer living. The cuisine, sometimes prepared with squid and known as the "dancing squid rice bowl," rose to prominence after Japanese sushi restaurant Ikkatei Tabiji began preparing the plate in this particular fashion, according to CBS News.

So how does the squid "come back to life?"

The reaction is an automatic response to the sodium chloride, or salt, in the soy sauce. The recently deceased squid may lack a brain, but its muscle cells, which receive electrical commands, are still intact, NPR reports.

"Most of the tissue in an organism that's recently dead, recently killed, is actually still alive" Charles Grisham, a chemistry professor at the University of Virginia, explained to Discovery News. "In this case, even though the brain function is missing, the tissues will still respond to stimuli."

The squid's muscles still retain Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy for muscle contractions. Therefore, when the sodium in soy sauce is absorbed into the creature's body, it triggers muscle spasms that appear to make the cephalopod dance. Of course, a specimen must be fairly fresh for soy sauce to elicit this reaction, according to the report.

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