What's the difference between a colossal and a giant squid?
I've heard there's a breed of squid that's even bigger than giant squid. Is that true? What's the difference between the two?
When most people talk about giant squid, they are talking about Architeuthis--a squid that grows to approximately 33-43 feet long and lives in all oceans except polar and tropical seas. There's a bigger squid in the sea, however--the colossal squid, the only member of the genus Mesonychoteuthis. Although only a few examples of the species have ever been found, it's estimated they can grow up to 46 feet long.
Colossal squid live in the Southern Ocean region, from Antarctica in the south to the southern tip of New Zealand, South Africa and South America. Although they are only estimated to be a few feet longer than giant squid, colossal squid are also wider and heavier. There are some other physical differences as well; giant squid have suckers lined with teeth, while those of colossal squid have sharp hooks that swivel. Colossal squid have longer mantles and shorter tentacles than giant squid, in general.
While no live colossal squid has ever been seen in its natural habitat, fishermen recently captured one in Antarctic waters. The squid did not survive, but the fishermen froze it for scientists to examine later. The squid measures about 33 feet long and weighs in at 1,091 lbs. While this is the largest example of the species ever found, scientists have found the beaks of squid much larger than this one's in the stomachs of sperm whales--suggesting there are much larger specimens out there.
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