Mesonychoteuthis illustration


Apr 10, 2006
Some days ago a friend asked me if he could use a drawing of Mesonychoteuthis I made many years ago, for a new edition of a book about animals discovered since 1900. Actually I was quite unhappy with that illustration, as it is not that well drawn and full of anatomical errors. So I decided to make a new depiction, what turned out to be much harder than I assumed, as it is really not easy to draw a lifelike animal, if your main references are photos of floppy carcasses. There are also only very few photos which show the actual shape, dimension and position of the eyes, as well as the exact lengths of the tentacles. Furthermore the 2007 specimen is quite confusing with its enormous balloon-like mantle, which looks very different from the earlier and smaller specimens. Now here you can see the result of my attempt to depict Mesonychoteuthis.
I know there are some little mistakes, for example the anterior attachment of the fins on the mantle is of slightly wrong shape... Sadly the pencil outlines are not as sharp as in the original drawing, as graphite seems to reflect too much light during the scanning process. I don´t draw that often, and I colourize my drawings nearly never, but perhaps you like the picture.
To illustrate the size of the squid, which is based on the 2007 specimen with 2,3 m mantle length, I also added a scale.


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It's pretty close, with some notable exceptions. Indeed, as you yourself note, the anterior attachment is off; the fins meet the attachment at basically a 90 degrees angle. The fins are also proportionally broader and longer, slightly beyond the size of the mantle as you've dawn it here, I would say increase by 13% or so? Lastly, the eyes are somewhat larger than drawn, and slightly forward looking (90-100 degrees?), you're right about the blue irises, though!

PS: The fins have this "sharp" attachment to the central section of the mantle supported by the gladius all the way along their length, not just posterior.

PPS: in real life, the head on M. hamiltoni almost reminded me of a fly's head, proportionwise. The head as measured was 55 cm accross, with each eye occupying 24,5 cm of space, therein. Not 27,5 cm, as widely reported. The lenses bulge outward, as drawn, and are roughly 7 cm accross.

PPPS: I'll try and get you a "as close as is possible from memory" sketch, soonest, first need to attend TONMOCON :biggrin2:
Thank you very much for your comments, I really regard the corrections. There are indeed several things on which I was really not sure how to draw them. Besides the things you have already noted, the junction between head and mantle is also quite problematic too.
Hi Sordes, lovely drawing overall, especially the color! I would add to the comments above, if I may, that the 'tail' should not really be visible between the fins on the dorsal surface at all -- the way they are drawn looks much more like what you see from the ventral side (I have looked around for a good example online but almost all cranchiids seem to be illustrated from the ventral surface; you can kind of see it here though). If you would smooth that out so that the dorsal fin surface appeared essentially uniform, that might be a bit more accurate. It is also hard to tell whether the hooks on the arms have been included?
I really appreciate your comments, thanks again. The connection between the mantle and head in the nuchal region is shown in the drawing, but what really confused me was the extreme misproportion between head size and mantle diametre in the 2007 specimen, especially as it is shown to expand and contract during the video which shows it still alive. So it was not easy for me to determine the normal condition, and I tried to depict it somewhere between contraction and expansion of the mantle. The photos of the other smaller specimens I know show a much lesser disproportion between head and mantle diametre.
One reason why I showed the tail more separated from the fins is that it just looks somehow strange in this dorsal view when it is drawn without any break... I knew it was different in the lving animal, but this was artistic freedom.
I have drawn hooks on the tentacle clubs, but actually not on the other arms, as the drawing is not that big in overall dimensions, and the suckers are alreay very small, so I didn´t manage to add also the combination with hooks. It would be much easier to add such details with digital painting, but I have no experience with this kind of painting. The next time I´ll illustrate a Mesonychoteuthis, I´ll try to consider all your improvement suggestions.
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