A Post Where Craig Pontificates About the Colossal Squid

In my absence for a body size evolution workshop and during Peter’s coral week spectacular the media took the opportunity to spread disinformation about my favorite phyla-Mollusca. To bring you up to speed, a crack team of teuthologists* dissected both Giant and Colossal Squids at the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand last week. This is where the confusion arises as a Giant Squid AND 2 Colossal Squid were dissected. One of these was the 495kg giant caught over a year ago by fisherman in the Antarctic (oh yeah…she’s a girl!). Seeing the media consistently confuse the two species greatly saddens me. But hey if the media always got it right there would be little need for DSN.

So for clarity the Giant Squid and the Colossal Squid are completely different. Below I provide a list that you can print out and keep in your wallet or purse along with your Seafood Watch card.

  1. The two are not even that related other than that both are squid. The Giant Squid is from the genus Architeuthis and the Colossal Squid from Mesonychoteuthis
  2. The Giant Squid is longer but the Colossal Squid is bigger.
  3. The Colossal Squid has hooks. It weighs half ton and has hooks on its tentacles. Think of that the next time you take a dip
  4. The beak of the 495kg Colossal Squid individual was 42.5 mm. Beaks up to 49 mm have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales. This greatly exceeds those of Architeuthis in size and robustness.
  5. The eye of the Colossal Squid is bigger than the Giant Squid. In fact the eye is the largest eye of any animal. Kevin belongs to a sect that believes is you stare into the giant eye you can see God.
  6. The Colossal Squid can cloak itself similar to a Klingon Bird of Prey
  7. Did I mention hooks?
  8. So overall the Colossal Squid is the largest invertebrate on earth with special powers that stem from its large eyes, possesses stealth technology, and massive tentacles lined with razor-sharp hooks. The Giant Squid is cute cuddly one.

*One of these teuthologists (I love that title) is DSN’s field correspondent (although no one has told him yet) and generally the coolest scientist we all know, Steve O’Shea.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

11 comments on “A Post Where Craig Pontificates About the Colossal Squid
  1. Hooks?! In every suction cup?!
    Why are we afraid of sharks again?

    Because sharks can leave the water.


  2. Want to see more of the Colossal Squid?

    We’re pulling our colossal squid out of formalyn and moving it to its new display tank. She’s been in the tank preserving for the last few months and this will be our first look at her!

    You can watch our scientists webcast live on Wednesday 6 August starting 9am NZ time (USA: Tuesday 2pm to 5pm, UK: Tuesday 10pm).

    It’s one day only so we hope you can join us?

    Check out the full programme on our blog: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/squid

  3. Pingback: Molluscs, now with 100% more awesum | Deep Sea News

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