After dissection, one of the giant squid awaits the start of the plastination process, which took 260 hours for both specimens.
Next, acetone, the solvent used on nail polish remover, will be injected to dissolve remaining materials such as soluble fats, which will then be vacuumed out. The resulting cavities will be filled with silicone.
Plastination has preserved the inner secrets of giraffes, horses, and people. But the giant squid, which contain huge amounts of water, posed a huge challenge.
The creature's easily damaged skin demanded that body fluids be replaced with silicone at a much slower rate. Furthermore, maintaining a lifelike posture with no skeleton to support it demanded all of von Hagens's skills—as did the creatures' complex eyes, notoriously difficult organs to preserve.
The result, said squid expert Steve O'Shea, "is as much art as it is science."
(See the first ever pictures of a live giant squid.)