[News]: Very Large Colossal Squid Caught

Sordes;90484 said:
I have a very stupid question: If the carcasses of large squids are examined, is this made only on dissection-tables, or are they also sometimes placed into a container of water, where they would probably look more lifelike, because they are lesser affected by gravity there. I ask this because the appearance of squids on the air has often not much resemblance to those they have in water. Especially in very big specimens like the subadult Mesonychoteuthis some time ago, they look more like a shapeless bag of flesh, when lying on the ground, and we still don´t know how they look exactly when they are floating in the water (or is there already a still not publicized underwater shot of a living Mesonychoteuthis which we will not see untill next year or so?

I'd wager that those who have done a lot of squid dissections find that having the animal in its natural pose in water is less important than the anatomical relationships that one can investigate by direct interaction in the air: if I pull on this, what happens, and that sort of thing... just as human coroners don't feel a need to pose the corpses realistically to investigate them, but exhibits for laypeople do communicate a lot more by posing then in "natural" positions which the trained physiologists can infer without much effort.

However, I'd expect that floating the animal in water would be useful for one application: sticking it into an MRI machine! Unfortunately, finding an MRI machine sized for our colossal friend is likely to be out of the question... I've been told that formalin is OK for MRI-related properties, though. Unfortunately, the CAT scanner :oshea: used on a whale some time back is probably not so interesting on a squid, because of the "no bones" issue... MRI, however, is great for tissue differentiation, and can be used to measure the local diffusion properties (which can trace nerves and characterize the directions of muscle fibers, at least to a limited extent). MRI is also slow, though, so I expect that in the limited time window after defrosting, it couldn't be done before the dissection, unless the order of events can be preserve, MRI, dissect without problems. Anyway, I have no idea if MRI machines that big even exist, let alone are anywhere near NZ....

I worked a bit with some MRI researchers a few years back... I was mostly just reminded of this by Sordes' question, but if there's real interest in getting this squid MRIed I might be able to ask some of the MRI microscopy folks if they have any ideas, or if they know anyone with a gianormous MRI machine anywhere in NZ... finding an appropriate machine is probably a long shot, but if you happened to find an MRI machine that's properly proportioned, I can likely dig up some nifty parameter settings and data processing methods to make the most out of it.
Firstly, :cuttlehi: Jon, great to see you online! :smile:

The examination-in-liquid idea would have some pros and cons.

- Containment of all goo, juices, misc arms and other slidey things that lead to a tendency to slide off the table (this would be a BIG pro)
- Delay of tissue deterioration if the liquid was cooled

- Necessity of positioning vat/bin on floor and examining in crouch (given the weight of the specimen itself, imagine that plus the weight of liquid required to submerge)
- Rapid fouling/clouding of liquid with squid juice, goo, digestive gland leakage and other fun stuff
- Difficulty of positioning viscera and other features for examination and photographing - for example, in air you can use gravity to sort of flop the gills to one side to get them out of the way; more difficult in liquid unless you pin them
- Difficulty of photographing in general, with clouded liquid and reflective liquid surface

... so, it's definitely worth thinking about, but there are also definitely some potential obstacles that need to be overcome.

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The CT scans of Architeuthis that I've seen were pretty impressive, so I wouldn't rule it out. Monty I don't know if the whale you were referring to is the one I've in mind, but I recently found a description of a stranded neo-nate sperm whale that was CT-imaged in a machine big enough to accomodate solid-fuel rocket motors. Link below, very cool stuff. Dunno if there's an equivalent machine in the Southern Hemisphere, let alone New Zealand.


On the potential of a liquid dissection environment, would it be conducive to the use of endoscopes and other snaky examination tools? If you had really steady hands (never drank coffee ever) you might even be able to suction out various goos before they muck things up too much, or isolate them for study, i.e. hoover out the stomach to get material uncontaminated by ink, crap, etc.

Since so much of a squid mantle's interior is empty it's tricky to establish the spatial orientation of the innards. Examiners get a 2-D presentation when squid's on a table, which is unhelpful in general but more so when the subject is a cranchiid with vertically oriented internal structures. Being able to look in and see how it all hangs would be a good thing.

Sordes, that was so NOT a "very stupid question," that I'm scared to imagine what you'd consider a very smart question.

Well, I just thought that I am surely not the first one who had this idea and that there must be a reason why it is normally not done. I know this would have no effect on the actual anatomy, as you will find nothing new. Anyway I think it could be beneficial to reconstruct the life-appearance of an animal. If you take a super-fragile deepsea organism which consists mainly of water, you will probably have not a very good imagination how it looked alive. Those squids in formaldehyd are always very saggy looking, most probably because formaldehyd has a lesser densitiy than water.
I think you'll find an announcement from Te Papa very soon.

The reasons why (giant & colossal) squid have been examined 'on a slab' have been entirely logistical. Who has a big enough tank to examine them in water? This is one (of several) of the reasons why they're not defrosting the squid immediately. Historically we've had strong benches to lay the animals on, or the floor.

I can see it now, SCUBA-diving scientists examining the defrosting squid, armed with clipboards, waterproof paper, cameras and tweezers. Basically you could be looking at a colossal aquarium with mechanical filtration (to remove the goop).

We did a CT on a pilot whale here last year, and still have this whale frozen. These images can be found here. A little later in the thread (~ p 4 or 5) you'll find the endoscope images from a giant squid. It would be a logistical nightmare to do the same on a squid embalmed in formalin (it becomes tough) or in a vat of water/brine (simply getting access to places is rendered almost impossible).

Remember, this is a huge animal that has been folded up inside a 1.2 x 1.2m plastic box, that has been hauled up a deck and then left to lie there for a while while they figure out what to pack it in. I am sure that a few things have happened inside the animal that will effectively have destroyed much of the positional/structural/anatomical relationships. It will be damaged!

Although some have openly criticised the possibility of using a 'microwave' of sorts to defrost this brute, there is going to come a time when technology catches up, and I don't think it will be long before someone gives this a try. We've received some fantastic responses from people around the world; it has opened my eyes as to what can now be done, and in what time. There's an entire science in this .... cryogenics!
I actually wrote to him last week (tried to post a comment), but nothing has appeared online. It's pretty sensational stuff! I did wonder if he was a TONMO.com member, and if he wasn't then he sure should be.
WhiteKiboko;90593 said:
He doesnt have Moroteuthis robusta, Thysanoteuthis rhombus or Lepidoteuthis grimaldii...

Moroteuthis ingens is close...

He seems to claim that Moroteuthis robusta has been re-named to Onykia robusta

That's news to me...
Microwave plan for colossal squid
[SIZE=-1]Fish Update, UK - Mar 23, 2007[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]AN industrial-scale microwave oven may have to be used to defrost a colossal squid caught in the Antarctic last month, scientists say. ...[/SIZE]


NZ scientists may microwave Colossal Squid
[SIZE=-1]Independent Online, South Africa - Mar 22, 2007[/SIZE]
[SIZE=-1]Wellington - A Colossal Squid weighing nearly half a ton and believed to be the biggest ever caught is being kept on ice as scientists ponder whether to put ...[/SIZE]

There was no activity on this site since a longer time ( I visited this site already several times during the last weeks), and I suppose he just had no time to set the comments free.
There is still some debate about the Moroteuthis/Onykia synonymy (explained and discussed a little more here). There has been some back-and-forthing about whether to split or lump these two groups and although the Tree of Life has gone with Onykia as senior synonym, I don't think this is a closed case yet.

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