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

aron hills

Cuttlefish
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Joined
Apr 17, 2003
Messages
17
#1
Guys,
Check out this link to the LNHM website regarding the known length of A.Dux. They claim it is 18m...

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/lifegalleries/mi.html

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
environment.

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

Mandy Holloway
Zoology Information Services

*****
 

Clem

Architeuthis
Supporter
Joined
Apr 6, 2003
Messages
1,839
#2
Re: Have the london natural history museum got it wrong???

Mandy Holloway said:
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...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.
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.

:thumbsup:

Clem
 

aron hills

Cuttlefish
Registered
Joined
Apr 17, 2003
Messages
17
#3
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....

:shock:
 

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