Scientists Defrost, Dissect Rare Colossal Squid
Specimen is one of 2 known intact ones ever found
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2014 2:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 17, 2014 3:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – After thawing an animal that had been frozen for 8 months and some careful maneuvering with a forklift to get it into a tank, scientists were able to take a good look at the best-preserved specimen of the elusive colossal squid ever discovered. The 770-pound creature hauled up by a fishing boat in the Antarctic is one of just two intact specimens scientists have been able to examine, and squid scientist Kat Bolstad, who led the dissection team, tells AFP this was "by far the most perfect colossal squid that I have seen." The female, up to 16 feet long, was carrying eggs, and its plate-sized eyes are especially well-preserved. "They have very large and very delicate eyes because they live in the deep sea," Bolstad says. "It's very rare to see an eye in good condition at all."

Some 142,000 people around the world watched live-streaming footage of the squid being dissected at New Zealand's national museum in Wellington yesterday. The squid are often eaten by sperm whales, but many basic facts about how they live and die are still a mystery to science. The creatures are probably the source of age-old stories about krakens and other sea monsters, Bolstad tells the AP. "On the other hand, we don't really know what the grog rations were like at that time at sea, either," she says. "So it may be that we've got a bit of a fisherman's story going on there, too." (Another strange deep-sea find: A mushroom-shaped creature that scientists can't figure out how to classify.)