Friday Cephalopod: Giant squid at the Darwin Centre


It’s a bit sad looking, but it really is an 8.2 meter long giant squid preserved in a tank at the Darwin Centre in London, with various other bottled specimens in the background…including some that were collected and labeled by Charlie Darwin himself.


  1. Glen Davidson says

    I do hope we’ll really know something about them in the relatively near future.

    We don’t usually know so little about something that big, though the depths at which they thrive explains it fairly well. That, and they don’t really wait around for us to bother them, unlike, say, anemones.

    Glen D

  2. Holytape says

    Sure it look cool now. But I’ve seen the horror movies. Some buxom blonde is going to have her back turned toward the creature, and then it’s going to come alive. And then how will you stop a giant squid zombie? You don’t. We all die. It’s the end of the world.

    The Ammonoideaster Demon

  3. glenister_m says

    Having been fascinated by drawings of giant squid, and of course ’20 000 Leagues under the Sea’ (which should have been fathoms incidentally, unless the sea is over 5000 miles deep), I must admit I was a bit disappointed seeing my first museum specimen at the Smithsonian last year. A rather small body contrasted against the very long and thin tentacles. Neat to see, but different from what I was expecting.

    I’d be curious to see a specimen of a collossal squid of similar length.

    Of course one dreams of seeing squid/octopus of Jules Verne proportions, which from some carcasses that washed up, could conceivably be out there. I won’t get my hopes up though…

  4. Usagichan says

    #9 – I believe the 20,000 leagues refers to the length of the aquatic Odyssey, not the depth at which it was undertaken.

    Had to (metaphorically) bite my tongue to prevent a “there’s that sick squid I owe you” joke only comprehensible to English readers (with infant school sense of humour (senses of humour – grammar guidance pls).

  5. rebecca.skepchick says

    Those at TAM London got to take a free, personalized tour of that area of the Darwin Centre, led by Karen James. It was a super time, and we’re hoping to make it happen again this year.

  6. Alan B says

    I went with my grandson on the standard public tour of the Darwin Centre a little while after it opened.

    IIRC these were every half an hour or so and we had a guide who worked in the Centre along with another 8 or 9 visitors.

    The pervasive smell in the area, especially in the rooms where the large tanks were located, was of alcohol. The ambient temperature was cooled a bit to keep the concentration down.

    Many of the specimens were, of course, in sample bottles and jars. These had a variety of labels, some extemely old. We were shown some of the Darwin specimens along with many type specimens. IIRC these had obvious red spots.

    There were a number of offices and laboratories, along with the storage area. Clearly there was a substantial amount of scientifc work going on involving the huge range of specimens. Well worth a visit (as, of course, is the whole of the Natural History Museum).

    I have special affinity to the NHM. I used to live a moderate bus ride away and took that bus most days during the school holidays. I used to know where almost every item was (at least, to the nearest few cases). One of my favourites was the lectures given most days. Many were aimed at children and were extremely well attened. I even got my picture on TV when the BBC came to film.

    Long time ago. One of the very few reasons why I would like to live in London. But not good enough to counter all the other reasons why I would not like to live in London!

  7. nuada-oz says

    Watch out for the old gods.
    they don’t like seeing their servants treated like this.
    It is againt the the geneva convention to display the bodies of enemy combatants in such a triumphilant mannner in public.

    Nuada agat lam
    (ancient irish hero/chieftan)

  8. Summer Seale says

    That’s a heck of a lot of calamari!

    Giant squid always fascinate me because we still know so little about them. I remember a video from Japanese researchers a few years ago who were the first to capture footage of one live in the water, and it surprised them because the squid violently attacked the camera and was something like out of a nightmare.

    I know most mollusks are extremely gentle creatures and even highly intelligent, but I wouldn’t want to meet that thing in its native habitat! =)