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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Great Big Squid Word (for the Week of March 4, 2007)

February 27, 2007

Q. Dear Twig: Did you hear about that super-huge squid?

A. Yes. Yes, I did. I read about it in the newspaper. Some fishermen from New Zealand caught it. Scientists call it the colossal squid. Why?

Because it's really, really, really big. You could say it's even colossal ("cuh-LAHS-uhl"; huge or gigantic). The colossal squid the fishermen caught weighed 990 pounds, or about the same as a full-grown farm-raised Jersey cow. Moo!

And it stretched almost 40 feet long, equal to four LeBron James slam dunks stacked up end to end. Wham!

Give it pink skin, the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom (the better to see things with!), and tentacles armed with hooks and suckers (the better to catch things with!), and you start to get the picture.

"The colossal squid has long been one of the most mysterious creatures in the deep ocean," said New Zealand's fisheries minister, Jim Anderton. Scientists, he said, "will be very interested in this amazing creature."


P.S. Almost as big is the giant squid: just as long, not as heavy, even longer tentacles!

Notes: The scientific name of the colossal squid is Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, while the not-quite-as-big but still-plenty-big giant squid includes a handful of species in the Architeuthis genus. Sources: A Feb. 22, 2007, press release from the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries, "Amazing Specimen of World's Largest Squid in NZ," (check out the great freaky photos!); and a Feb. 22, 2007, story by Associated Press writer Ray Lilley, "New Zealand Fishermen Catch Rare Squid."

About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691,, (330) 263-3776. Online at

Kurt Knebusch