The Damien-Hirst-giant-squid connection

So, a bunch of fisherman caught this huge, 28-foot giant squid off the coast of the Falkland Island, and London’s Natural History Museum decided to put it on display. As the BBC reports, they had quite a time figuring out how to present the briny beast. It turns out it’s pretty hard to defrost a giant squid: It’s hard to time the pacing of the warm-up so the thin little tentacles don’t rot while waiting for the thick mantle to defrost.

But once the thing is de-iced, there’s an even thornier curatorial challenge: Where do you get a tank big enough — and weirdly-shaped enough — to hold a creature that is as long as a bus but thin as a human?

They called Damien Hirst, the British shock-jock artist famous for producing big icky installations of entire animals (sharks, horses) sliced like salami:

“We contacted Damien Hirst’s group after seeing their animals preserved in formalin. They put us in touch with a company who could make these tanks,” explained Mr Ablett.

The squid now resides in a glass tank, filled to the brim with preservative solution, and is one of 22 million specimens that can be seen as part of the behind-the-scenes Darwin Centre tour of the Natural History Museum.

(Thanks to Debbie Chachra and Will Hanisko for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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