Otherwise known by the scientific name Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, the colossal squid is the largest known species of squid in existence in terms of sheer body mass. It can grow up to an estimated 14 metres long and some believe that its weight can exceed 750 kilogrammes. It is found mainly near the Antarctic coast and while rarely seen by humans, this squid is not thought to be at risk of any type of extinction. Let us have a look at some quick facts regarding this truly amazing creature.
This squid has the largest eyes of any creature known on earth. One specimen measured 27 centimetres in diameter with a pupil size of an amazing 9 centimetres. However, these eyes were partly dessicated. It is estimated that the eyes of a live specimen could measure as much as 40 centimetres in total diameter (nearly half of a metre).
One of the reasons that this animal remains so mysterious is due to the depths that it calls home. These creatures have been known to comfortably exist as much as 1,000 feet (300 metres) below the surface of the ocean. At such depths, normal observation is difficult. However, it is rumoured that these squid can exist much, much deeper.
Due to the sheer size of this beast, it is not thought that this behemoth has many natural predators. While this has not yet been confirmed, scientists believe that the only threat may be the sperm whale. Some whales exhibited scarring on their backs that were consistent with its sharp tentacles.
Another one of the quick facts worth pointing out is that this monster has rotating hooks located on the ends of its tentacles. These are used for grabbing and holding prey before it is eaten by its massive beak. These hooks can swivel a full 360 degrees. On each tentacle, there are between 20 and 25 hooks. This can make an encounter with the colossal squid very painful indeed.
This type of squid was not known to exist until 1925 when one was found dead within the stomach of a sperm whale. It was not until 1981 that one was captured alive by a group of rather surprised fishermen. In 2007, another one was encountered off of the shores of New Zealand. It weighed in at a staggering 1,100 pounds (500 kilogrammes).
There is a myth that all squids do not have any hard innards. This is actually not the case. The colossal squid has a plastic-like feature called the gladius. This is used to support its musculature and inner organs. It is made of a substance known as chitin and can be easily seen when one of these monsters happens to be dissected.
While there is a considerable amount known in regards to the colossal squid, the truth of the matter is that this animal offers more mysteries than facts. Scientists are still not entirely sure how it feeds, swims or reproduces. It is hoped that further research will shed some light on these quick facts and other important questions. Indeed, the colossal squid is certainly not an animal to be trifled with!