hey squid fans!  a press release went out yesterday about what is currently believed to be the largest colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) specimen known to science.

the specimen is estimated at 450kg and about 10m long, although we won’t know for a few weeks for sure – it’s frozen and on its way to wellington.  from the pictures, though (see here and here, or here on youtube), it does look like a big one – i can’t wait to see it!  as far as i know, it was taken a few weeks ago, in the usual way: came up on a long-line in antarctica, wrapped around and happily munching on some toothfish.  the press release states that it was nearly dead when it reached the surface, which may be true, although the trip to the surface would not necessarily be fatal to a large squid in antarctica – the temperature difference between deep and shallow (which is what normally kills deep-sea squid brought to the surface – not the pressure!) is minimal.  but, supposing the squid was near death, the fact that the fishermen carefully brought it on board and stored it for examination does provide a unique opportunity for examining and learning from an extremely large, relatively intact specimen of this species.

at this point, unfortunately, not a lot more is known about this specimen, but it is being discussed here on TONMO (the octopus news magazine online).  and of course, i’ll post updates when i know more!

in the meantime, i’ll leave you with a few facty little tidbits about our friend the colossal squid.  it is…

– known from antarctica, where it comprises about 78% (by weight) of the sperm whale’s local diet
– believed to reach total lengths of about 12m – so this one, if truly 10m long, would be almost fully grown
– the only cranchiid squid with hooks in the middle of its arms and on its tentacles
not the same species as ‘the giant squid’ (Architeuthis dux)in a completely different family, in fact
– thought to be quite an active swimmer (based on the musculature of the mantle, and size and thickness of the fins)
– a species that has been known to science since 1925, but received remarkably little press before 2003
– in fact ginormous, but does not suck blood, eat penguins, or come from mars.  but thanks for asking.

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