Release the kraken! Odds are, you've heard of the amazing giant squid. For thousands of years, they've populated the stories of many seafaring cultures, and in more modern times, infiltrated blockbuster movies. But where do the terrifying myths end and the illuminating truths begin? Despite how much society has learned over the last 100 years, there's still a great deal of facts we don't know about the real-life kraken. Only a handful of dead specimens have been found, and even fewer live ones have been observed in the wild.
What we do know is both fascinating and frightening. While one of these creatures probably won't be taking down any large boats, they do get into fights with whales and have been known to win a bout or two. We also know that once they have you in their grasp, it's impossible to escape. There are plenty amazing giant squid facts; the most amazing of all, though, is they are real.
You've seen this bad boy in movies, as well as in Norse and Greek mythology: the kraken. A massive sea monster full of tentacles known to destroy ships, it spent centuries as a legend of the sea told in the stories of fisherman who swore they saw it. In 1857, however, a Danish naturalist found a massive squid beak that had washed up on the shores of Denmark. This led to the theory there was in fact a creature that would fit the description of the fabled sea creature. Since the finding of that beak, 21 species of giant squid have been discovered.
The colossal squid was discovered in the early 20th century, but in 2003 the first intact specimen was captured. It was 10 meters long and over 1,000 pounds, making it the largest invertebrate on the planet at the time. Among squids, the females are typically much larger than the males. The largest one on record is 18 meters long and weighs nearly a ton.
The giant squid, like many species of squid, possesses special feeding tentacles whose sole job is to grab food for the animal to eat. Each squid has two tentacles that reach up to 33 feet long. They're tipped with sharp-toothed suckers, which let them act as spears. In many cases, these tentacles end up doubling the entire length of the animal.
Even though scientists have known about the giant squid for some time, much of that knowledge came from body parts found in the ocean, or corpses that washed up on shores and found by fishermen. However, just a few short years ago scientists got their first glimpse at the creature swimming around its natural habitat. It was found in the depths of the Pacific Ocean near Japan. Seeing it alive in the water allows scientists to learn more about its habits, how it moves, and how it hunts. To study the animal, they used a variety of instruments including bioluminescent lures.