Colossal Squid May Be Microwaved

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Two years ago Ablett faced a similar problem with a giant squid that is now on display at the London museum.

Museum staff circulated warm water around the harder mantle while packing ice around the softer arms, he said. The squid thawed "without any serious degradation."

Swiveling Hooks

Shorter but heavier than the giant squid, the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) has been estimated to measure between 39 and 46 feet (12 and 14 meters). The newfound specimen weighs in at 1,091 pounds (495 kilograms), according to the latest estimate.

Armed with swiveling hooks on their suckers and hubcap-size eyes, these deep-sea dwellers are exquisitely armed for hunting their assumed quarry: large fish and other squid species.

Adult colossal squid are themselves preyed on by sperm whales and sharks.

(Related: "Jumbo Squid, Sperm Whale Study Reveals How the Giant Creatures Feed, Hunt" [March 12, 2007].)

The species wasn't discovered until 1925, and only from tentacles found in a whale's stomach. Russian fishers caught the first complete specimen in 1981.

Since then only a few colossal squid have been captured, but the animals all were dead before they were hauled aboard.

Not to Be Dissected

Regardless of how it is defrosted, the colossal squid in New Zealand will not be dissected, said O'Shea, of the Auckland University of Technology.

"The specimen is too priceless."

"There are a lot of noninvasive techniques we can use to extract scientific data," O'Shea said, "and that is what we are working on."

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