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Giant Squid

The giant of the deep

Order: Teuthoida (also known as Teuthoida, Tenthoidea)

Family: Architeuthidae

Genus & Species: Architeuthis dux


Architeuthis dux is a large, carnivorous squid with a torpedo-shaped body. They are most definitely the largest invertebrates in the world, with the males reaching up to 25 ft (7.5 m) in length. The females are larger, the longest recorded specimen being 59 ft (17.7 m) in length. It is possible that they can become longer as they are only known by about 200 corpses that have been stranded on beaches, caught in nets, or found in the bellies of sperm whales. During WW2 a crewman on board a British Admiralty trawler claimed to have seen a giant squid 175 ft (52.5 m) in length, the length of the boat. Whether he is telling the truth or not is much debated. The heaviest giant squid ever found weighed 1,980 lbs (880 kg).

Giant squid have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, reaching up to 10 in (25 cm) in diameter, or roughly the size of a dinner plate. They have eight arms as thick as a fire hose and studded with two rows of suckers. The two feeding tentacles are thinner and longer and end in a leaf-shaped pad containing four rows of suckers, each sucker being further equipped with pointed hooks. The skin is maroon in colour.

The mantle, or main body, can reach 9 ft (2.7 m) in length and contains most of the organs. The brain is very large and complex. Giant squid are equipped with a very developed nervous system. The fins are located on either side of the mantle and are very small, used only for balance and maneuverability. The mouth resembles a parrot's beak. The funnel is small and is used to jet propel the squid through the water, as well as aiding in respiration (waster is drawn through siphon and passed through gills), and in squirting an inky-substance known as sepia.


Giant squid are thought to live 1000-2000 ft below the water's surface in most of the world's oceans. One of the known homes of the giant squid is the Kaikoara Canyon of New Zealand, although no live specimens have been captured there. Giant squid have been found stranded all over the globe, with at least 25 found in Great Britain and 3 in America. They seem to prefer cold water and will actually suffocate in warm water.


The giant squid feeds on fish, crustaceans, smaller squid, and perhaps baby sperm whales. To eat, it shoots out its two longer tentacles like a bungee cord and grasps the prey with its two "clubs". The tentacles close over the prey and bring it back to the mouth, where a parrot-like beak chops the meat into small chunks. The tongue then flicks the meat down to the throat and into the stomach, going through the brain on the way down. Too large a chunk of meat and the brain is destroyed.


The male giant squid is thought to have very large genitalia that inject spermatophores into the skin of the female's tentacle. The spermatophores then stay in the skin until the female is mature enough to reproduce. The female then lays eggs and the hatchlings are thought to be exact replicas of the adults


The only known enemy of the giant squid is the sperm whale, which has been captured with the remains of giant squid in its stomach. Battle scars found on both live and dead sperm whales are thought to be caused by the suckers from a giant squid.

Giant squid have been caught and killed in drift nets by fishermen. Although they are so large, they are not sought after by the fishing industry for commercial uses due to the high concentrations of ammonia in their body. They are considered to be nuisances because they consume large amounts of fish. Also, their large nerve axons make them a target of neurological scientists.


Architeuthis dux is the only known species of giant squid. Due to some slight differences between the bodies of different giant squid specimens, there were thought to be at least six different species, with one being called Architeuthis harveyi. However, it is thought that these differences are intra-specific, and while there may be found to be different subspecies, Architeuthis dux is thought to be the only species.