Watch Live! Colossal Squid Undergoes Autopsy

Tonight in New Zealand one of just two intact colossal squid, at the New Zealand Museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, is undergoing a live autopsy. The giant sea beast was recently caught in the Ross Sea.

Scientists, including Aaron Boyd Evans, a post-graduate researcher at Auckland University of Technology, will be involved in the autopsy.

Before beginning the autopsy, scientists had to defrost the beast, and just to deliver the colossal squid from the freezer to a tank of cold water, several scientists, a forklift and a hose were needed. Once thawed, scientists were able to unfold the squid in its tank and take body measurements, including the length of its mantle, tentacles, fin and gladius (a rigid structure that supports the mantle).

One surprise was the sex of the colossal squid. "We were excited to find that out ourselves," Kat Bolstad, of Auckland University of Technology, said during the live autopsy. "As it turns out this one is a female, so it's got some eggs at the end of the mantle."

The only other intact colossal squid is also female, and apparently not much is known about the males of this species, according to the statement by the New Zealand Museum. That female specimen was examined in 2008.

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Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.