Colossal squid: A stealthy, genius predator and… a glutton?

As soon as I read the headline “Dr. M and the Colossal Squid”  from Deep Sea News on Google reader today I knew what I would write about.

It might be that I am a huge (pun intended) fan of the word “Colossal” and I wish that I could remember to use it more often in my stories. But it’s probably because although squids are disgusting and I imagine, slimy, creatures, you have to admit they are way cool.

And maybe I’m just the exception but I’m pretty sure most people have heard of Giant Squids. Well get this:

The eyeball of the Colossal Squid is about the size of a soccer ball, and is now the largest eyeball of any known species to have ever lived on the planet.

Though it is likely the squid shrunk a significant amount after it was caught and transferred to New Zealand to be studied, it has been clocked in at 4.2 metres long.

While the Colossal squid is shorter than the Giant Squid, it is much heavier, weighing in at 490 kg (or 1080.27 pounds) compared to 275 kg (606.271 pounds) for the giant squid. That weight makes it the largest invertebrate on Earth.

If you can believe there’s more, the squid’s tentacles are lined with “razor-sharp hooks” to catch its prey.

Although very little is known about the species, like how it reproduces, how it hunts or even what a fully-grown male specimen looks like, scientists obviously have a lot of ideas.

One of the theories, focused around the invertebrate’s hunting habits, was published a couple years ago by Rui Rosa and Brad Seibel. They said that basically the squid is a big lazy creature that sits around doing almost nothing at 1,000 feet below the sea near Antartica.

“Our findings also indicate the squid shows a slow pace of life linked with very low prey requirements (only 0.03 kg of prey per day). We argue that the colossal squid is not a voracious predator capable of high-speed predator–prey interactions. It is, rather, an ambush or sit-and-float predator that uses the hooks on its arms and tentacles to ensnare prey that unwittingly approach.”

And as I book my ticket to New Zealand to go check this thing out, all I can think of is the end of Dr. M’s post:

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 the cute cuddly one.

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