Jul
29
2005

Is the Giant Squid a Cannibal?

Australian scientists believe that the elusive giant squid,
Architeuthis dux, may indulge in cannibalism. The diet of these mythical creatures, enshrined in myth as ferocious beasts that overturned boats and devoured sailors, has previously been difficult to study. No giant squid has ever been examined alive, and the digestive systems of most studied specimens have been emptied. But researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia, have now analyzed the gut contents of a male giant squid caught by fisherman off the west coast of Tasmania in 1999. They've found three tentacle fragments and 12 squid beaks, along with other macerated prey. "This strongly suggests cannibalism," says team member Simon Jarman of the Australian Antarctic Division in Kingston, Tasmania. The only other prey species identified was a fish, the blue grenadier.

The question remains: is this intended or accidental cannibalism? New Zealand scientist Steve O'Shea believes it's the latter. "The male giant squid has to use a puny 15-gram brain to coordinate 150 kilograms of weight, 10 metres of length and a 1.5-metre-long penis," he says. "He physically plunges this penis into the female's arms, which are rather unfortunately right next to her beak. Because he is coordinating so much with so little, I think occasionally bits get chewed off when they inadvertently get too close to the beak." Despite this theory, other members of the squid family, like the jumbo squid, Moroteuthis ingens, have been known to eat members of their own species.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i would love to find out more about them. cannibals are scarey

posted on Thu, 10/09/2008 - 7:01pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i love all these squid mysteries. when i found out about them they immidietly became my favourite animal. im also facinated at the fact that first encounters of the giant squid with men caused miths of the craken. i heard that a giant squid sometimes mistakes a boat for a sperm whale and thats why it attacks.

posted on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 2:45pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I'm with you on giant squids. What a weird, interesting animal, right?

I don't know if a squid would attack a boat because it looks like a whale, though. Sperm whales love eating giant squid, so you'd think that if a squid suspected a whale was nearby, it would book out of there.

Still, when big squids do get caught by whales, they probably don't go down without a fight. Check out the picture here—some sperm whales have weird circular scars on their skin that biologists think come from the serrations and hooks on the suckers of giant squid and colossal squid.

posted on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 3:56pm
stan's picture
stan says:

im the annonymous guy who talked about the cracken. i thought of the marks on the whales and i probably also think those are caused by giant squid. i was also thinking, are there less colossal squid? or maybe they
get caught less often because they live deeper under the see. i also want to suggest this address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_squid and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossal_Squid
they have some information on both secies. they both have nice and clear drawings of colossal and giant squid on the right.

posted on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 1:52pm

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