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Aldebaran Expedition; Architeuthis found dead on 21/03/02


TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
Just stumbled across this news from almost two years ago. I don't believe we picked up on it at the time.

According to this expedition report a recently deceased Architeuthis was found floating in the vacinity of Tenerife in the Canary islands by a German marine research expedition. Fascinating photographs available here:

Aldebaran Expedition

If you follow the link there is a very interesting photograph of the gladius of the animal. I did not expect it to be transparent!


Staff member
May 30, 2000
Great find, Phil, thanks for posting. Interesting about the gladius (pen). Just to level-set, I did a quick search and came up with the following:

Since the squid is an invertebrate, it has no back bone. Instead, they have a feather shaped blade called the gladius. Most of the muscles are attached to this. It provides the squid with support. The gladius is made of chitin. This is the same thing of which your fingernails are made. The brain of a squid is protected by cartilage.
Elsewhere the gladius was described as the same kind of substance as a shrimp shell, which is pretty much transparent... This thing looks like it was thoroughly cleaned before pictures were taken, you think? It almost looks blasted clean, maybe to minimize the smell. ??

If the muscles are attached to the pen, you'd think there'd be quite a bit of muscle left on it when it was removed...

In any event, that's some catch they got!

Steve O'Shea

TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
tonmo said:
If the muscles are attached to the pen, you'd think there'd be quite a bit of muscle left on it when it was removed...
That's an interesting thought Tony; the pen is actually within a sac, the lining of which the muscles must attach to (not too sure about the grammar there). The pen is actually a vestige of the shell, the sac actually a 'shell sac'; consequently their are no muscle scars on the pen itself. This is certainly worth an article, with plenty of pics, as it's a little hard to get your head around (for me too).

I've been thinking about future articles for some time; this one, one on synonymies and nomenclature; one on basic characters/character states in squid, and how best to describe a squid and octopus; one of rearing squid; one on comparative gladius/pen/shell morphology (with Phil); and one on cephalopod collection techniques, are all swimming around in the head. I'll make a start in a couple of weeks.


May 15, 2003
I also never expected the gladius to look like that, they also got a real nice shot of the beak. The squid also does seem quite small.

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