Giant Squid Gut Contents (Cannibalism)

Gut contents of a giant squid Architeuthis dux (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida) from New Zealand waters

By Dr. Steve O'Shea and Dr. Kat Bolstad (Tintenfisch)

Authored: May 2, 2003 / Posted: Jan. 2, 2006

Note: Steve and Kat welcome discussion in's Physiology & Biology forum.

Earth and Oceanic Sciences Research Institute
Auckland University of Technology
Private Bag 92 006
Auckland, New Zealand

New diet information for the giant squid (Architeuthis dux) is presented based on the identification of substantial identifiable prey items recovered from the gut contents of a specimen caught in New Zealand waters. Prey items are attributed to two species of squid: Nototodarus sp. and Architeuthis dux. The incidence of Nototodarus in the stomach contents is not new, but the occurrence of Architeuthis remains is. Numerous fragments of an Architeuthis tentacular club, consisting of carpus, manus, and dactylus suckers, and the dactylic pouch, introduce the possibility of cannibalism–a hitherto unreported behaviour in this genus. A synopsis of Architeuthis diet is presented and alternatives to cannibalism (such as autophagy) are evaluated.

No stomach caecum found amongst the more than 100 giant squid specimens (Architeuthis dux) previously examined by the authors has contained more than trace fish bone, scale, and unidentifiable squid remains. However, a recent routine dissection of one specimen revealed a stomach caecum...
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About the Author
Steve O'Shea
Steve is an expert in the systematics and biogeography of cephalopods, and joined the staff in June 2002. He can be seen on the Discovery Channel documentary, Chasing Giants: On the Trail of the Giant Squid. For more information, see his Autobiography and Select Bibliography (2003). Dr. O'Shea lives in New Zealand.


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