When you die you become a colossal squid. But only if you were good.

The AMNH's famous squid and whale.: Pretty cool, but not as good as The House on the Rock's under appreciated masterpiece.
The AMNH's famous squid and whale.: Pretty cool, but not as good as The House on the Rock's under appreciated masterpiece.Courtesy Fritz Geller-Grimm
And if you were bad? What do you become then? A hagfish. And if you were really bad? You become a tufted titmouse, nature’s pervert. Do you know what a titmouse thinks about all day? It thinks about ways to incorporate animal abuse* into really dirty jokes.

Ah, but if you were good, if you were really good, then when you die you become a colossal squid, nature’s video arcade, nature’s He-man, nature’s candy. Normally I detest mollusks—how can you trust something so different? I wouldn’t make friends with an annelid, why should I treat mollusks any differently?—but the colossal squid, and its gracile cousin, the giant squid… they’re something special. Huge, big-brained, terrifying sperm whale food, just hiding out in the deep. When angels see giant squid, they get jealous—check it out, it’s in the bible.

But what made me think of the colossal squid just now? Good question, but unnecessary—I think about the colossal squid all of the time. It just so happens, however, that the big squid is in the news.

You may recall that in February of last year the first ever intact colossal squid was captured by a fishing boat, and then flash frozen for future study. If you don’t recall, let technology do it for you. Well, the time has come for the frosty squid to get its once- and twice-overs.

Initial examination determined that the squid was an adult, and, at about a thousand pounds, the largest cephalopod ever documented. Shorter but much heavier than the giant squid, the specimen was only 4.2 meters (about 15 feet) long, although it’s believed that the creature’s two longest tentacles probably “shortened and shrank” after it died (the squid was eating a toothfish when the fishermen snagged it, and was still slightly alive when they finally got it on board). Before the tentacles shrank, the squid could have been several meters longer.

Marine biologists have determined from the recent study of the body, however, that the beast was far from being fully grown; judging by the development of its beak (squids have beaks! Check this out!) the scientists figured that the squid could have grown five or six hundred pounds beyond its already impressive weight.

The scientists also observed that the squid’s eyes, when alive, probably measured about a foot across. The eyes of colossal squid are the largest of any known living creature (I think some extinct ichthyosaurs came close, though). Often living a mile or more beneath the surface of the ocean, squid need huge eyes to see in the low light.

To help grip their prey, the suckers on giant squid’s tentacles are lined with tiny teeth. The colossal squid has something similar, and slightly more awesome: the biologists found hundreds of sharp, swiveling hooks on the suckers at the ends of the colossal squid’s tentacles. Sperm whales, which feed on giant and colossal squid, are often covered with slashes and circular scars from the tentacles of struggling squid.

Interestingly enough, the team of biologists admitted to eating part of another colossal squid that was under examination. This I understand—who wouldn’t want to take some of the strength of a colossal squid for their own. The meal was described as being “very much like sashimi” and “nice.” One scientist also said that “it left a real taste in your mouth and stayed there for quite a while,” which doesn’t necessarily sound “nice.”

I’m always looking for reasons to talk about colossal and giant squid, so if you’re into that keep your eyes peeled at Science Buzz. Until then, though, be good. Otherwise you might end up as a sneaky hagfish, filthy little titmouse.

*Thanks to Thor for the link.

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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

In my career as a geologist we never once dined on the subject of our scientific research. Darn biologists.

posted on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 3:59pm
Candice_318's picture

i don't get your joke???

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:25am
Candice_318's picture

I thought you become a cow, okay never mind, that ruined my after life plans

Sponsered in part by
IM AWESOME Productions

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 8:38am
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

cool i become a squid in my after life....

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:53am
shanee's picture
shanee says:


posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:53am
Vincens Vuktilaj's picture
Vincens Vuktilaj says:

I agree with all these people, what is the point of your article. A squid please, you should of thought of a better lie. Sorry but your wrong.

posted on Wed, 07/29/2009 - 1:44pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

This is a really old post. I've come up with tons of great lies since then. Way better lies.

I don't think I was "wrong," though.

posted on Wed, 07/29/2009 - 2:14pm
andyshadexx's picture

hmmm well i read the whole thing, but the problem is what the point of this article?

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:00am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Primary point--Colossal squid are totally rad.

Secondary point--The largest colossal squid ever found was just examined by biologists. It was big, and could have gotten much bigger.

Tertiary point--Colossal squid are rad enough for two points.

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:18am
koallainfestation37's picture

i wanna be a giant squid when i grow up

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:04am
MrBig621188's picture

sounds fun lol

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:04am
Jefflemus00's picture

A colosso squid? lol. I think that when we die we should be like a mammal or something...especially if we are good.Maybe if we are bad we could be a squid.

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 10:15am
Parisa Vahdatinia's picture

Hi Everyone,
Here at Current.com we just posted an awesome new video all about this colossal squid. Please take a gander and let us know what you think:

Feel free to link to the video or embed it into your site. Please let me know if you think you might use the video, and definitely feel free to email me if you're interested in other relevant videos or reviews on Current.

Thanks a lot, hope to hear back from y'all soon,

Parisa Vahdatinia
Associate, Online Outreach

posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 4:48pm
bert123's picture
bert123 says:

dude when i die i would want to be a penguin that doesnt get ate by sea lions and crap like that.
IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:41am
flinch619's picture
flinch619 says:

idk bout all that. i think i would rather be a whale or somethin.


posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:49am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

You have a point, flinch. But if you were a whale you'd be covered in squid scars. And you'd be forced to eat you former friends (if they had been good in life).

posted on Fri, 05/02/2008 - 9:58am
zephyr's picture
zephyr says:

ya i would rather be a whale

posted on Thu, 05/08/2008 - 9:53am
mesonychoteuthis's picture

the specimen of the colossal squid at te papa (museum of zealand) will be moved from the fixing tank to a new display tank next wednesday 6th august nz time (tuesday evening us time) and will be available on webcam. the specimen will go on public display in early december

posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 1:12am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Well, it looks like I'm going to New Zealand for Christmas, then.

posted on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:19am
curious's picture
curious says:

holy fudge! holy fudge!! now i'm gonna go and catch myself a colossal squid! ok,ok, maybe i'll just go see this one when it's put on display like a freak. poor amazing thing, keeps much of our imagination alive.

posted on Thu, 07/30/2009 - 8:38pm

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