Squid experts uncover the biggest eye in the animal kingdomApril 30th, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by admin
Wellington, April 30 (DPA) Scientists examining the most perfect example of the largest squid ever caught uncovered Wednesday the biggest eye in the animal world - measuring 27 centimetres across. “It is a truly phenomenal eye,” Steve O’Shea, New Zealand’s leading expert on squids, said as he studied the 495-kg colossal squid slowly thawing after being kept frozen since it was caught in Antarctic waters 15 months ago.
And Eric Warrant, a Swedish professor who flew to New Zealand for the occasion, said the eye was “truly amazing” and, when the squid was alive, the organ was probably the size of a football.
“These are without doubt the largest eyes that have ever been studied - and probably among the largest eyes that have existed during the history of the animal kingdom,” Warrant said.
The squid’s other eye was damaged when the monster of the deep was hauled up from a depth of about 1,500 metres while clamped onto a big toothfish hooked by a New Zealand fishing boat in February last year.
O’Shea said the massive creature’s beak was “extremely thick and hard and could crush the vertebrae of any two-metre-long toothfish with no difficulty.”
He said the examination indicated that the colossal squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, could grow up to 750 kgs.
Up to 2,400 viewers at a time have logged in from around the world to a webcast from the marine laboratory of New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington to watch as scientists from Sweden and Japan joined O’Shea and his assistants in examining the defrosting giant.
Pledged to keep the creature intact so that it could eventually go on display for Te Papa museum visitors to marvel at, O’Shea ruled out dissection and inserted an endoscope into its stomach to view the contents.
O’Shea’s assistant Kat Bolstad said the colossal squid fed largely on toothfish, grabbing its prey with razor-sharp swivelling hooks on its tentacles and slicing it into small pieces before eating it.
Despite its size, the colossal squid remains vulnerable to bigger giants in the deep, being the main diet of sperm whales, which Bolstad said are known to eat several a day.
The scientists began preserving the creature with formalin as it thawed to prevent it from deteriorating. It is to go on display at the national museum later this year.
- Giant squid could grow to 750 kg: expert - Apr 29, 2008
- Kiwi scientist wants to rear giant squid in captivity - Feb 03, 2010
- Top ten animal finds of 2008 - Dec 25, 2008
- New snaps show sperm whale eating 30-foot giant squid - Oct 31, 2009
- Man U offers defender O'Shea 16.5 million pound contract - Oct 27, 2010
- Lost world discovered at Lake Huron - Jan 12, 2012
- Beware of fine print while signing home, car loans - May 27, 2010
- Rooney named 'worst dressed player in Manchester United' - Sep 29, 2010
- Squid can 'drop arms' as defensive tactic - Aug 03, 2012
- Euro 2012: Cassano and Balotelli send Italy to quarters - Jun 19, 2012
- Scientists find first archeological evidence of human activity beneath Great Lakes - Jun 09, 2009
- Mozart helps in the detection of colon cancer - Nov 01, 2011
- Antarctic penguin takes wrong turn, ends 4,000 miles away - Jun 24, 2011
- Sea horses recovered from Agra warehouse - Apr 05, 2012
- 500m-year-old squid-like carnivore no more a mystery - May 27, 2010
Tags: 15 months, animal kingdom, animal world, antarctic waters, beak, bolstad, colossal squid, dissection, endoscope, fishing boat, kgs, largest squid, marine laboratory, museum visitors, o shea, small pieces, squid, tentacles, toothfish, vertebrae