The colossal squid has been known since 1925 thanks to some fragments of large specimens found in the stomachs of sperm whales, but its study was made possible only by accidental captures by surface longliners. The colossal squid is not a close relative of the giant squid of the genus Architeuthis.
While both are gigantic in size, their anatomy and area of distribution are very different. The largest known specimen measures about ten meters in length, weighing 495 kg. According to current estimates, its maximum size can reach 15 meters.
These estimates are based on the analysis of young and small individuals and on the remains found in the stomachs of sperm whales. The colossal squid is undoubtedly larger than the giant squid, and thus the largest known invertebrate.
Its beak is the largest of any known squid, and its eyes are probably the largest in the animal kingdom.
What are the dimensions of the Colossal Squid
On February 22, 2007, New Zealand authorities announced the capture of the largest known colossal squid.
The specimen weighed 495 kg and its total length was initially estimated at 10 m. Fishermen aboard the vessel San Aspiring belonging to the Sanford Limited fishing company had caught the animal in the icy waters of the Ross Sea.
It had been brought to the surface attached to a southern cod that had been caught with a long line. After wrapping it in a net, they recovered it and frozen it on board. This colossal squid eclipsed the previous record of a specimen caught in 2003 weighing around 195 kg.
The specimen was frozen in a cubic meter of water and transported to the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarew Thawing and dissection of the specimen took place at the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington, under the direction of principal biologist Chris Paulin, with technician Mark Fenwick, Dutch marine biologist and toxicologist Olaf Blaauw and biologists Steve O'Shea, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kat Bolstad.
The Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington, New Zealand exhibits the largest known specimen to the public, preserved in formaldehyde. The exposition dedicated to it was opened on December 13, 2008. A special website about this squid was also opened.
Studies carried out on some arrow squid by researchers at Te Papa Tongarewa have shown that the volume of fresh specimens can decrease by 22% during dehydration with alcoholic solutions. Thus the large specimen of dehydrated colossal squid, during the 14 months spent in a freezer, had shrunk considerably.