In what now seems to be an egregious oversight on the part of Apple, the scientific community this week flagged an anatomically incorrect squid emoji in the manner any good critic does: by mercilessly owning it on Twitter.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium pointed to the error this week in a tweet stating that Apple’s squid emoji was “upside down,” before threading a series of squid puns about the mistake.
Sarah McAnulty, a squid expert and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Connecticut, told Gizmodo by phone the error has everything to do with the placement of the squid’s siphon, which is on the wrong side of the squid’s body relative to its head and a mantle. Basically, she said, “It would be like having a butt on your forehead.”
“The way they move is with jet propulsion,” McAnulty said. “So basically, they take a bunch of water into their mantle and then use their muscular torso muscles, kind of, to squeeze it through a little hole that’s called the siphon, or the funnel.”
On Apple’s emoji, the siphon appears on the squid’s face, which we now know is not where that belongs.
More distressing is the realization that the squid emoji was approved as part of Unicode 9.0 in 2016—meaning it’s been like this for two freaking years. McAnulty said she personally wasn’t bothered by it when the emoji first came out because she was happy to even have one, though she did say she and other squid people poked fun at it.
“I didn’t want to say anything for fear of it getting taken away,” she said. But when the Monterey Bay Aquarium tweeted about it earlier this week, McAnulty responded in all caps: “Thank you. Somebody finally said it.”
As per the Unicode Consortium, it “is not a designer or purveyor of emoji images,” and it doesn’t actually own any of the colorful emoji you see across various platforms. What this means is that the onus here falls on Apple. At least one person, web designer Dan Flynn, has offered an alternative mockup.
We’ve reached out to Apple about whether it plans to update the emoji, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.