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Giant squid remains a mystery as video raises more questions than answers

Despite being captured on film for the first time in its natural habitat, the elusive giant squid still remains a big mystery to scientists. After the footage was released, many researchers renewed their interest in the species, which is of the genus Architeuthis and has fascinated scientists for a long time.

Based off of specimens caught in nets and washed ashore, scientists have estimated that the giant squid can grow up to 55 feet long. According to Edie Widder, who helped obtain the now famous video, the animal that was caught on tape in the North Pacific Ocean was nearly 30 feet long and appeared silver and gold in color. Widder’s co-worker Tsunemi Kubodera notes  that the filmed squid was missing its two longest tentacles.

The film of the giant squid has since inspired many cephalopod experts including William Gilly, a biology professor at Stanford University and the Hopkins Marine Station. “It was really thrilling to see the press releases concerning the filming of a living giant squid with a manned submersible,” he told Discovery News.

Gilly is no stranger to the giant squid. In fact, he studied one that was found dead floating in Monterey Bay, California. The squid Gilly found was only 7 feet long and weighed 300 pounds. Like the animal caught on film, Gilly’s squid was also missing some limbs and other parts. “It was missing the tentacles and its stomach had been removed through a hole in its body,” he said. “Something strange must like to eat those parts, I guess!”

When studying the dead giant squid, Gilly also noted the animal’s unique color changing abilities. The giant squid contains organelles called chromatophores that hold a special pigment that can reflect light. Gilly found that this system was deep inside the body cavity of the dead giant squid he found. This finding was contrary other, smaller species whose color changing organelles are found on the outer surface of the body.

In addition to the giant squid’s color changing abilities, scientists have also begun to gain interest in the animal’s eyes thanks for the new video footage. The film of the giant squid in its natural habitat found that the diameter of the eye is two to three times larger than any other animal.

Thanks to Lund University’s Dan-Eric Nilsson, the eye of the giant squid has been compared to a large dinner plate at approximately 10 inches in diameter. These extremely large eyes are likely used for increasing viability in the giant squid’s natural habitat of very deep waters.

Although the giant squid remains a mystery, the new footage of the animal in its natural habitat has surely inspired many scientists to study the elusive species. Thanks to this, more information than ever has come to light about the giant squid.