By 3 News online staff
A baby colossal squid is being examined by New Zealand scientists to help answer big questions about how the deep sea creatures change over their lifetimes.
The 12cm-long Mesonychoteuthis has got squid scientists in New Zealand excited because the specimen fills in a stage in the creature's development which is the subject of scientific examination of the species.
The squid has been described as being in very good condition, with the hooks and suckers already present on the arms.
It was collected by NIWA during the joint New Zealand and Australia Antarctic Ecosystems survey earlier this year and frozen until it could be further examined by scientists at Auckland University of Technology.
The animal looks a lot different to the larger specimens which have already been examined at Te Papa.
AUT PhD student Aaron Evans, who studies the 'glass squid' family to which the colossal squid belongs, has already got stuck into the squid and says it is about half the size of the next-smallest specimen.
"We know that glass squids' appearance changes dramatically between the time they are very small and when they reach adulthood – many go from being almost completely transparent, with strange eyes on long stalks and ridiculous tiny fins, to being dark red or even purple black, with large round eyes and fins. It's great to be able to trace this development throughout different life stages," he says.
As well as examining the baby squid's overall appearance, a molecular analysis will also be done to investigate genetic diversity within the species.
Had the squid continued to grow, it could have reached up to six metres in length.
source: newshub archive