Largest Invertebrate Ever – The Colossal Squid

The largest invertebrate most of us would have seen probably would be a large spider or an exceptionally long millipede. Those of us who are inclined towards seafood might have seen squids and clams, all of which are invertebrates. But imagine an encounter with a squid that is larger than a typical family SUV and weighing just under 500 kgs.

But luckily, colossal squids are very elusive animals, often spending most of their time almost 2,000m below the sea level.

Besides the colossal squid, there are other types of species which inhabit the world’s oceans. The giant squid is the only other large, deep-sea mollusc and it weighs nearly half as much as the colossal squid.

Before the dawn of modern technology, the scientific community considered these animals to be cryptids. It was even placed among the likes of fictional monsters and paranormal entities. This was due to the fact that early reports of colossal squids originated as tall tales from sailors and seafarers. Various accounts from seafarers would describe the elusive squid wrapping its very long tentacles around sperm whales. Other accounts state that large tentacles, over 30 feet long, have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales. But for a long time, no substantial evidence was found for scientific analysis.

However, when large tentacles from dead specimens began washing ashore, the scientific community began to take notice. In 1981, a Russain trawler caught a colossal squid that measured just under 13 feet and was later identified to be an immature female. Though science has acknowledged the existence of these creatures, not much is known about them. Marine biologists have speculated that they are distributed around the cold deep seas near Antartica, but other data have indicated that they might be found in the cost of Southern Africa and the Southern tip of New Zealand.

Given their massive size, you might assume that they have no natural predators. But the sperm whale is considered its primary predator and there is evidence to support this claim. Few dead specimens of sperm whales have been found with a characteristic circular scar around the head region. These scars are believed to have been caused by the hooks found on the tentacles of the colossal squid.

Today, few museums display specimens of the colossal squid, and the largest one weighing in at 11 feet and 350 kgs.

Explore more about the colossal squid or other related topics by registering at BYJU’S. Also, discover other important topics in biology such as the function of lipids, classification of cells, the role of hormones, examples of ovoviviparous animals and more.