How many Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni on display?

Jul 11, 2005
Hello Cephsciencefans

Are there any figures available for how many complete(ish, let's say head and tentacles or mantle and head, around 1.5-2 metres in total) of Colossal Squid are on display in Museums and Aquariums around the world?

It can't be that many.

as far as I know, it's zero, unless you count the rubber mock-up that Steve and Kat made for a movie which is now in Jean's care, I believe. Actually, I don't know what happened to the specimen that Steve and Kat got to study a few years back, but I assume after :squidaut: it wasn't in "display condition." Nixon & Young refer to another specimen, but I infer that it wasn't in prime condition, either...

p.s. the title of this thread made me wonder how many it takes to screw in a lightbulb and how many can dance on the head of a pin...
monty;85959 said:
I assume after :squidaut: it wasn't in "display condition."

:razz: !!!

I don't know of any colossal specimens on display. The one in all of our pics was on display briefly at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, and is now housed in a stainless steel tank in the collections there. We also have a small one (~1m ML) from Tasmania, but it's not on display either... so the latex model at Portobello is the only one I can think of!
Hmmmm very interesting. I guess a few museums must have beaks on display or other parts taken from Whale Vom. The six adult messie samples are beak only, right? :hmm:

There are a few Architeuthis models (see attached pic) and Whale models around the world in museums.

I think it's time to combine the two

What I would lke to see is a lifesize diorama of a Sperm Whale battling a Colossal Squid. Liike the dnosaur display of the Barosaurus (I think) protecting it's young against a hungry Allosaurus in the New York Museum of Natural History

Imagine the awe-inspiring titanic display! :shock:
Imagine the space needed! :hmm:
Imagine the cost! :sad:

Anyway, I digress. So if Joe Public and his life-partner and possibly their kids want to see a Colossal Squid specimen, they're pretty much out of luck?


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There is a Messie beak on public display in the Darwin Centre of the British Museum of Natural History in London. It's not easy to spot though; you'll have to find the glass case containing mollusca and I think it's on the second or third shelf up and placed next to a sectioned nautilus. It's not displayed clearly as such if you look closely at the jar and try to read the label it's definitely the beast.
Ah Ha!

Thanks Phil, I'll look out for that one, have you beet to see the NHM Architeuthis yet?


As a newsflash type update thing, I've just had an email from Jon Ablett, the Curator of Non-Marine Mollusca and Cephalopods at the Natural History Museum (London) who gave the talk on the Giant Squid Tour. He's gven me permission to post his reply to my question about the Colossal Squid that you may recall I gave some details of a while back

here's what Jon says:

"The Colossal Squid specimen that was brought to the NHM has been
preserved in formal saline and I am waiting to try and see if the
specimen is suitable to go on display. The specimen has the tentacles
and arms intact (and in good condition), the majority of the head but no mantle. The tentacles and head measure about 2m (this is very
approximate, I do not have the precise measurements to hand) in length.

The beak and buccal mass has been removed and a cast is being made of
the beak.

I am hoping to try and prepare the specimen for display (it will
probably go in the same tank as our large Architeuthis dux) but if it
does not look in good enough condition, then it will probably not go on display. This may take some time (although I am hoping to do it in the next month or two) as in order to work on the specimen I need to close the Darwin Centre Tank Room which is open to the public for behind the scenes tours.

I have some photos of the specimen (after being caught and being
prepared) but I am not able to let you (and TONMO) have a copy of them until the specimen is on display (or it has been decided the specimen will not be put on display, I also need to find out who owns the copyright of the photographs taken when the specimen was caught).

Sorry my answer is so vague but I will let you (and TONMO) know some
more details as soon as I can.
Best wishes,

Jon Ablett

Jonathan Ablett
Curator of Non-Marine Mollusca and Cephalopods"

Exciting eh? :biggrin2:
argh, i hate how all the cool stuff isnt on display! what i would do to be able to have unlimited access to the collections the national museums have.... *sigh*

a life size mock-up of a whale/squid battle would be amazing. i hazily remember a full size blue whale model that used to (or still is?) be on display above a resturant inside the ny museum of nat. history, along with the mentioned dinosaur display. but i may be incorrect about the whale species, as i was only 8 years old and trying to fully take in all the wonders i saw that day. but i am almost positive it was above a resturant of sorts, and that would be a perfect setting type for the whale/squid display. how awesome would it be to look at that from the perspective of the creatures below the ultimate battle of strengths?!

the back-collections always annoy me, because they contain the stuff i most want to see. for instance, the natural musuem of history at the smithsonian has a coelecanth (sp?) and several thylacine items in its collection, but there are no coelecanths on display and the only thylacine on display is behind some dumb screen next to a dingo to represent the thylacine's "extinction." the only way you can kind of see it is by pressing a button that lights up the screen so it becomes more see-through. i was so upset, i almost cried. the thylacine was the one animal i wanted to see most, to maybe get a picture of, and i could barely even see the precious specimen!!! on another note about specimens, the black jaguar on display at that same museum is from the local zoo i used to work at. That was a pull on my heart-strings, to see that beautiful girl at a place where everyone could appreciate her.

but yes, we need a full scale replica of a battle of whale and squid.
Avast ye Capn' and Norgebyblood. :arr:

Capn, me old sea dog, alas I have not set sail to the waters of the gallery to see the beast of the sea that you mention. The wind has not been favourable of late but soon I intend to set sail for a quest for the vast Scylla.

The salty old leviathan to which Jon Ablett refers in his resplendent reply, be this here specimen. Arr, it be caught by the good ship Isla Santa Clara in the year of our lord 25th June 2005AD in the waters of the dead man's island of South Georgia. The South Atlantic be the place, arrr.

In case of the owners of the likenesses having truck with the pictures on display below decks, here lies the original links to the depictions. Click on them with a mainbrace to be taken there for 'X' marks the spot. Arrr. (etc)


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ooooh the mantle's always the tricky bit isn't it?

Shades of Alecton and the snapping Architeuthis there.

It's a good sized chuck of Messie and wouldn't it look great in the tank with Archie?
avast! ye knew i was a pirate before i even mentioned it! eek, those are some stinky men, i bet ya! then again, if i caught a squid like that, i'd prolly lay down next to it with a madman's smile too

Phil, as usual you have bagged an elusive snap. I'd not seen that photo of that happy trio framing Messie's brachial crown before. A human element is always the best photo scale, I say, but only because the classic red double-decker buses have been retired.

But to those who are not Phil, I say, "Somebody's sneakily updating Tolweb's Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni page." Check out the view of the 2005 squid's tentacle club and a great image of the brachial crown. The photo, which is credited to Martin Collins, is very large, very detailed and completely awesome.

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