NZ scientists tackle colossal squid

Biggest specimen ever caught has 'dinner plate-sized' eyes and hooked tentacles.

    The squid has the biggest animal eyes on earth [Reuters/Musuem of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa]

    The predator measuring 8m in length and weighing nearly half a tonne is the biggest and best preserved adult colossal squid ever caught.


    They will examine the squid's general anatomical features, measurements, remove the stomach, beak and other mouth parts, take tissue samples for DNA analysis and determine the beast's sex.


    Biggest eyes


    The squid is armed with rows of rotating hooks
    [Musuem of NZ Te Papa Tongarewa]

    The squid's eyes measuring 27cm in diameter, were described as bigger than a large dinner plate, and are likely to be the biggest animal eyes on earth.


    Professor Eric Warrant, of the University of Lund in Sweden, said the eyes would probably measure about 40cm across or "about the size of a beach ball" if the squid was still alive.


    "These are without doubt the largest eyes that have ever been studied and probably among the largest eyes that have existed during the history of the animal kingdom," he wrote in the museum's blog.


    The examination of the colossal squid and two other smaller animals is being broadcast live on the internet.


    'Killer arsenal'


    Dr Steve O'Shea, a scientist from the Auckland University of Technology who is part of the research team, said the squid has hundreds of sharp hooks on its arms and a large, powerful beak which could easily snap the backbone of a fish up to two metres long.


    "It's endowed with a killer arsenal: the hooks, the beak, everything about it," he said on Wednesday.


    O'Shea said the size of squid beaks that have been found in the stomach of sperm whales show that colossal squids could grow up to 12m and weigh 750kg.


    Each of the squid's tentacles carry rows of unique rotating hooks used to capture prey and bring it to its beaked mouth.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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