Picture Post: Eye-popping calamari
Thursday 01 May 2008
They may look like a pair of lychees, but the wobbly specimens pictured here are in fact parts of the lens of the biggest animal eye ever found. The creature in question is none other than a half-tonne colossal squid, whose eyes measure an extraordinary 27cm in diameter.
It is currently under the knife at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa, in Wellington, New Zealand, where experiments are being conducted on the mysterious creature. Originally caught last year off the coast of Antarctica, but only yesterday defrosted, the mammoth mollusc has already broken records as the heaviest colossal squid ever found. But its orbs were making the biggest waves yesterday. Scientists dissecting the beast believe that, if it were still alive, its huge eyes might even measure up to 40cm across.
Professor Eric Warrant, of the University of Lund in Sweden, an animal-vision expert involved in the dissection, said: "These are without doubt the largest eyes that have ever been studied, and probably among the largest eyes that have existed during the history of the animal kingdom".
The giant eyes, which are about 11 times the size of a human's, would be used to navigate the murky depths of the Southern Ocean. It's clearly quite handy to have 8cm-wide pupils when you're hunting 1,000 metres below the surface of Antarctic waters.
Apart from its giant peepers, this is also the biggest squid ever to have been caught, with a body measuring 10m in length. And scientists believe that this enormous female of the species may not even be fully grown. Its beak measures a mere 40cm across. Other disembodied beaks found previously have measured up to 49cm across, suggesting that this squid has even larger relatives lurking somewhere down there, 20,000 leagues under the sea.
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