Colossal squid

species of mollusc

The colossal squid, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, is the biggest squid in the world, 9–10 metres (30–33 feet) long.[1]

Colossal squid
Size comparison against an average human
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni
Linnaeus, 1758
Global range of M. hamiltoni

The colossal squid is bigger than a giant squid. Its body is reddish brown and it lives up to 2000m below the surface of the Southern Ocean. It is the main food eaten by sperm whales. The colossal squid has ammonium chloride in its body, so it tastes bad for humans.

It is believed to feed on prey such as chaetognatha, large fish like the Patagonian toothfish and other squid in the deep ocean using bioluminescence.

The colossal squid is thought to have a slow metabolic rate, requiring only around 30 g of prey daily.[2] Estimates of its energetic demands suggest that it is a slow-moving ambush predator, using its large eyes primarily for predator detection rather than active hunting.[2][3]

The eye is 27 cm (10.63 in) wide, with a lens 12 cm across. This is the largest eye of any known animal.[4] These measurements are of the partly collapsed specimen: when living the eye was probably 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) across.[4]

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is displaying this specimen in an exhibition which opened in 2008.[5] A website[6] on the squid specimen is also available.


  1. Roper, C.F.E. & P. Jereb (2010). Family Cranchiidae. In: P. Jereb & C.F.E. Roper (eds.) Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species known to date. Volume 2. Myopsid and Oegopsid Squids. FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes No. 4, Vol. 2. FAO, Rome. pp. 148–178.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rosa R. & B.A. Seibel 2010. Slow pace of life of the Antarctic colossal squid. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, published online 20 April 2010. Cambridge Journals Online - Abstract
  3. Bourton, J. 2010. Monster colossal squid is slow not fearsome predator. BBC Earth News 7 May 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 World's biggest squid reveals 'beach ball' eyes Archived 2009-12-08 at the Wayback Machine AFP, via Google.
  5. "Te Papa's Blog entry. 5 September 2008". Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  6. "". Archived from the original on 2012-01-30. Retrieved 2010-10-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)