Have the london natural history museum got it wrong???

Discussion in 'Physiology and Biology' started by aron hills, Jan 30, 2004.

  1. aron hills

    aron hills Cuttlefish Registered

    Apr 17, 2003
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    Check out this link to the LNHM website regarding the known length of A.Dux. They claim it is 18m...


    I emailed them about it saying 'isn't it 13m???' and I got the reply below, your thoughts please:

    :grad: :?: :?:

    Dear Aron,

    The problem with these rarely seen molluscs is in trusting some of the
    accounts from the past. They come ashore in less than perfect condition
    and so a certain amount of extrapolation was employed, not to say possible
    exaggeration. A specimen which washed ashore at Plum Island,
    Massachusetts, in 1980 was only 2.7 metres long but lacked the feeding
    tentacles which would have conferred a total length of around 9
    metres. This example was well documented and seems entirely reasonable to me.

    The Tickle Bay specimen measured in (?)1878 was supposed to have been 6.1
    metres in body length alone and the 10.7 metre feeding tentacles gave it an
    overall length of well in excess of 16 metres. I'm not at all sure that
    anything seen more recently has come near those spectacular measurements
    and they are accepted by the Smithsonian Institution. Rather like the
    great white shark, early accounts of gigantic size come back to haunt us
    with their implication that everything was bigger and better in the good
    old days, and those figures get reproduced in every text book and website
    until they acquire the status of undisputed fact. If the Tickle Bay squid
    was accurately recorded then it may have been an exceptional example.

    I think a certain amount of caution is required, and I'm sure you are right
    to question our exhibit, first put together at a time when such
    measurements went undisputed. This is not to say larger examples are not
    out there, but it's hard to study an animal in such an inaccessible

    Thanks for your comments and I'll pass them along to the exhibition department.

    Mandy Holloway
    Zoology Information Services

  2. Clem

    Clem Architeuthis Supporter Registered

    Apr 6, 2003
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    Re: Have the london natural history museum got it wrong???

    Hello Aron,

    First, congratulations on soliciting such a pithy response from LMNH.

    The Thimble Tickle squid sounds way too big, and the measurements are a bit confusing. When they say "body length," do they mean mantle length? Mantle and head? Mantle, head and arms? The tentacle length alone would equal the total length of a typical mature Architeuthis. Dead giants are extremely pliable, and it wouldn't surprise me if the Tickle squid had been given a good stretch as it was arranged for measuring.

    Ms. Holloway's Carcharadon carcharias analogy is apt. For years, the champion white shark was the so-called "Port Fairy shark," a monster that maxed out at 36 feet in length. The measurment was accepted for decades, until re-examination of the archived jaws downsized the animal to roughly half that of the original figure, which is now believed to have been a typographical misprint. Fortunately, an artifact was available to be measured and the error was corrected. Without fragmentary evidence to extrapolate dimensions from, the Tickle squid's size should be regarded skeptically.

    Again, great catch.


  3. aron hills

    aron hills Cuttlefish Registered

    Apr 17, 2003
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    Thanks Clem.

    I know that it is suspected that early A.Dux discoveries where 'stretched' to take them up to around 18m in length, and that we still aren't entirely sure whats down there and how big it gets (the recent capture of a M.Hamiltoni being a great example), but thats half the fun to me!

    I was just under the impression that we have lots of imperical data for A.dux and have ammassed a few good examples of this incredible cephlapod to be able to state with confidence that an adult giant squid is approx 13m TL.

    Here's to the next incredible discovery....


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