The World's Biggest Flasher

Taningia danae

The largest light-producing organs in any known animal help this rare, deep sea squid defend itself.

How big does it get?

You may be looking at it. This specimen is the largest of its species ever recorded--although larger ones could be out there.

Where does it live?

Dots on the map indicate where specimens have been caught or found stranded. Taningia range from the surface down to 1,000 m (3,280 ft).

Where did this specimen come from?

Captured in a fisherman's net off the Massachusetts coast, it is the first Taningia recorded in the western North Atlantic.

Total length of specimen: 2 m (7 ft)
Weight: 61 kg (134 lb)
Sex: female

What does it eat?

Mainly fishes and other squids, scientists think. But they're not really sure.

Can you find these parts on the specimen in the tank?

Head: houses the brain.
Eyes: the size of a large grapefruit.
Fins: very large in this species. They are used mainly for swimming, gliding, and steering.
Mantle: the main body. This muscular sac contains most of the organ systems.
Arms (8): lined with two rows of hooks, not suckers.
Light organs: located at the tips of two arms. They look like black lumps. See how they work
Feeding tentacles (none): This is one of only a few squid species that have none as adults.
Funnel: a multipurpose tube used in breathing, jetting, squirting ink, laying eggs, and expelling waste.

Learn about the most recent capture off Spain of a 275 pound Taningia danae.

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

Smithsonian Giant Squid Overview Page

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