The giant squid is a rare and mysterious creature, once thought only to exist in stories of sea monsters called krakens.
This 8.62-metre giant-squid Architeuthis dux was caught off the coast of the Falkland Islands in 2004 and offered to the Museum. So little is known about the giant squid, it was too good an opportunity for the Museum to miss. The nearly complete specimen, caught at a depth of 220 metres proved a challenge to preserve and store.
The squid was caught alive and immediately frozen allowing DNA samples to be taken before decay set in. In 2013, these samples helped prove that there is just one species of giant squid, Architeuthis dux.
Most of what we know about the giant squid comes from the remains of dead squid recovered from the stomachs of their predators, sperm whales. The giant squid can probably grow up to 14 metres long with eyes the size of footballs, teeth-filled suckers and a strong beak. Scientists have tried to estimate how long giant squid live and how quickly they grow by examining structures such as the gladius (the pen), the eye lens and the statolith (a sensory organ). But exactly how they grow and develop, how they find a mate, and if they are solitary or shoaling animals are still mysteries.
Once defrosted the squid was placed in a specially constructed case and put on display in the Museum's Darwin Centre.