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giant squid

OLogy Series
animal
card
192

giant squid

OLogy Series
animal

The giant squid is the largest invertebrate, or animal without a backbone, ever to have lived on Earth! It can grow up to 60 feet long, so it's hard to believe that a giant squid has never been seen alive until 2006. For centuries, scientists have had to piece together facts about the giant squid from parts that washed ashore or were pulled in by fishing nets. This mysterious creature is a relative of snails.

A Gigantic Discovery
In 1997, fishermen off the coast of New Zealand caught something unexpected in their nets: a giant squid. The 200-pound male squid was frozen and flown to New York City in a crate labeled "seafood." It was thawed and taken to the American Museum of Natural History, where scientists soaked it in, and injected it with, a preservative called formalin to keep the tissue from decaying. Never before had researchers studied a squid in such good condition. This exciting discovery will help scientists learn more about this mysterious creature of the sea.

The giant squid moves swiftly through the ocean by:

spinning its tentacles like a propeller on an airplane

grabbing onto hard surfaces and then pushing off through the water

forcing a jet of water out of its body, propelling it through the water

Are you right?

Correct!

A squid moves through the ocean by jet propulsion. It forces water out of its body cavity, which swiftly pushes it forward through the ocean currents.

The giant squid has two long tentacles and eight arms, all with suckers. These are used to:

hold onto prey

hold onto passing boats and ships

grab surfboards

Are you right?

Correct!

A giant squid captures its prey by using its two long feeding tentacles to grab an unsuspecting victim and bring it toward its arms. Then the squid chomps down on its prey with its strong beak.

Since squid live in the dark deep ocean, they have no eyes at all.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Giant squid have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom -- about the size of a human head!

giant squid
Scientific name: Architeuthis dux
Size: up to 60 feet long
Weight: up to 1,000 pounds
Habitat: deep sea
Diet: fish and smaller squid
Predators: sperm whale
Characteristics: eight arms lined with suckers and two longer feeding tentacles with suckers on the end
Significance: the largest invertebrate on Earth

Image credits: Eric Hamilton.