The World's Largest Invertebrate

Architeuthis dux

This is the species commonly known as the giant squid. Because scientists do not know exactly where in the sea it lives, they have not been able to study it alive.

How big does it get?

Look at the diver above and compare with the illustration of Architeuthis to see how enormous that is. And scientists probably haven't found the largest specimen!

Where does it live?

Dots on the map indicate where specimens have been caught or found stranded. Scientists suspect giant squid live mostly at depths of 200-700 m (660-2,300 ft).

Where did this specimen come from?

Washed ashore on Plum Island, Massachusetts, in 1980, it is only the third giant squid found stranded on U.S. shores.

Total length of specimen: 2.7 m (9 ft)
Weight: 200 kg (440 lb)
Sex: female
Missing parts: long feeding tentacles and maroon-colored skin. They were lost when the squid washed ashore.
Estimated length with feeding tentacles: 9 m (30 ft)

What does it eat?

Mainly fishes and other squids, based on scientific analysis of the stomach contents of two giant squid specimens.

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

Head: houses a complex brain.
Eyes: largest in the animal kingdom. They can grow to 25 cm (10 in.) in diameter--about the size of a volleyball.
Fins: relatively small in this species. They help balance and maneuver the huge animal as it swims.
Mantle: the main body. This muscular sac contains most of the organ systems.
Arms (8): studded with two rows of suckers.
Feeding tentacles (2): missing in this specimen.
Funnel: a multipurpose tube used in breathing, jetting, squirting ink, laying eggs, and expelling waste.

Ocean Planet Exhibition Floorplan

Smithsonian Giant Squid Overview Page

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