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Man, these things just keep getting more and more gigantic: Fishermen off the coast of New Zealand were out catching patagonian toothfish when they snared Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni — a colossal squid, the 747 of the briny deep. At 990 pounds and 39 feet long, it’s 50% larger than the next biggest specimen ever caught; and since colossal squid are assumed to grow to a maximum of 46 feet, it’s pretty close to being the biggest one you could catch.
Though who knows? The 46-foot estimate is based on studying the occasional colossal-squid corpse accidentally caught in nets or washed up on shores, so maybe these majestic beasts grow larger yet. At which point it makes you wonder, to what increasingly florid adjectives might we one day be forced to resort? What comes after “giant squid” and “colossal squid”, anyway? “Ginormous squid”? “Just-totally-way-huge squid”? My favorite quote from an Associated Press article on the catch:
“I can assure you that this is going to draw phenomenal interest. It is truly amazing,” said Dr. Steve O’Shea, a squid expert at the Auckland University of Technology. If calamari rings were made from the squid they would be the size of tractor tires, he added.
Nice. Mind you, given that the flesh of colossal squid are deeply infused with ammonia — to make them neutrally bouyant, neither rising nor falling in the water — that would be some rather nasty-tasting hors d’ouerves.
(Thanks to Frances, Joseph and Will for this one!)
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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