Giant squid washes up on beach
HOBART, Tasmania -- Scientists in Australia are investigating what may be a new species of giant squid, after one of the deep sea creatures washed up on a Tasmanian beach over the weekend.
The squid weighs up to 250 kilograms and, including tentacles, measured almost 18 meters (60 feet), the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Monday.
Only two other specimens have been found on Tasmanian shores, in 1986 and 1991, the report said.
Scientists at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery were studying the squid to determine if it was a new species after identifying several new features.
"It's definitely of the giant squid group, which is exciting enough," the museum's senior curator of Zoology, David Pemberton said in the ABC report.
"But it does have some features about it which we're unsure about and we've called some specialists in from university to help decide, but it looks like it could be different.
The squid will be used for research and will go on show next month.
Myth and legend
The giant squid, of genus Architeuthis, has been the stuff of myth and legend for more than two thousand years. But little is known about the animal with less than 50 of the creatures spotted in the past century.
Because of the low number of observations, scientists have struggled to build up a profile of the giant squid, discovering only in the last five years how it reproduces.
It is believed they rarely have an opportunity to mate, and live isolated lives, but it is still unknown where the squid fits on the food chain.
The giant squid is a carnivorous mollusk with a beak-like mouth strong enough to cut through a steel cable and its eyes are the largest in the animal kingdom -- growing up to 45 centimeters (18 inches) wide.
The giant squid is believed to feed on, among other things, the world's biggest animals with several eyewitness stories from fisherman who have seen the squid in fierce battles with whales.
Dead whales have been found washed up on beaches with large sucker marks on their bodies, apparently from squid attacks.
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