- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2008

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — The biggest squid ever caught, estimated at up to 33 feet long and boasting a fearsome beak and razor-sharp hooks, may be small compared with others still lurking in the depths, scientists said yesterday.

The colossal squid has begun a two-day thaw at the Museum of New Zealand in Wellington before it is examined in more detail today by an international team of scientists.

It weighs 1,090 pounds and has eyes the size of dinner plates.

That may be relatively small, scientists said after initial examination, suggesting that other colossal squid, or Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, under the chilly Antarctic waters might grow much larger.

On a museum blog following the progress of the thaw, Chris Paulin — who is projects manager at the museum, known as Te Papa Tongarewa — said yesterday that the beak of the colossal squid has been exposed as the flesh defrosts.

The size of the lower beak, used to chop prey into bite-sized pieces, is estimated at 13/4 inches.

Colossal squid lower beaks previously found in the stomachs of sperm whales have been as long as nearly 2 inches.

The colossal squid was caught as it ate an Antarctic toothfish hooked on a fishing boat’s long line in Antarctic waters in February last year.

After being snap frozen, it was given to the museum, which has since been deciding the best way to defrost, examine and display it.

On Monday, the squid was placed in a tank filled with cold salty water to ensure it defrosts slowly without decomposing. The progress of the thawing is being shown live by webcams on the museum’s Web site www.tepapa.govt.nz.

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