World's Largest Eyes - Video

Maniac World

World's Largest Eyes

Scientists in New Zealand dissecting a rarely seen colossal squid say they have discovered the largest known eye.

Over the last few days the creature has been examined as it emerges from the deep freeze in which it has been kept since it was accidentally caught by fishermen off the coast of Antarctica last February.

While defrosting the 495kg (78lb) animal took longer than expected, scientists working at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa found that its two eyes measured 27cm (11in) across, with lenses 10 to 12 centimetres in diameter the size of an orange.

"This is the only intact eye (of a colossal squid) that's ever been found. It's spectacular," said Auckland University of Technology squid specialist Kat Bolstad, one of a team of international scientists brought in to examine the creature.

"It's the largest known eye in the animal kingdom," Bolstad said.

If the squid were alive, said Professor Eric Warrant of the University of Lund in Sweden, the eyes would probably measure about 40 centimetres across, "about the size of a beach ball".

The scientists said these would help the squid to locate prey in the dark of its habitat 1,000 metres (621ft) deep in the Antarctic waters. The squid can descend to 2,000m (6,500ft) and are known to be aggressive hunters.

Its two long tentacles carry up to 25 rotating hooks each, while each of its eight arms contain up to 19 fixed hooks used to capture prey and bring it to the squid's beaked mouth.

The squid is the biggest known specimen of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid. When caught, it measured 26 feet long and weighed about 1,000 pounds, but scientists believe the species may grow as long as 46 feet.

Developments on the dissection can be followed on Te Papa's website including the discovery of the squid's ovaries which ends debate about its sex.

But the scientists believe that larger squid still lurk in the Southern Ocean.


World's Largest Eyes

Maniac World