Collections through Cake: A Juvenile Giant Squid

Whenever I give a tour of the Discovery Centre, I always let visitors know that there is ONLY ONE object in our collections that isn’t the realest of real deals. In this case, I think we might be forgiven as it is a model of a juvenile giant squid. 

He was built for a temporary exhibition called ‘Slime’ which was in the Central Library in 2002 and now provides some jaw-dropping awe-factor to the Discovery Centre.

He is also delicious made out of cake:

Here are some #SquidFacts that I’ve come across:

  • The study of squid is called teuthology.
  • The earliest known ancestor of today’s squid is Kimberella, a tiny mollusc that looked like a jellyfish and lived about 555 million years ago.
  • Yes, squid are molluscs, just like more familiar shelled sea creatures. Snails are also molluscs. Mollusca is a huge taxonomic family.
  • Giant squid have tentacles with suckers lined with teeth. These teeth chew prey so that it can then be swallowed.

  • Squid have beaks, rather than mouths.
  • Sperm whales prey on giant squid and often bear scars from the be​-toothed tentacles.
  • Some neuroscientists practice their surgery skills on the nerves of squid, as they are thicker than human nerves and easier to practice with.
  • Squid have an internal mineralised mass called a statolith which helps them to balance (like a counterweight I suspect).
  • Statoliths have growth rings (like trees) and can be used to measure age. They suggest that giant squid only live for up to five years.
  • Giant squid (along with colossal squid) have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom – up to 27 cm in diameter.

Interestingly, the squid probably has several brothers and sisters at natural history museums all over the world because it would cost manufacturers so much to make the cast, that they would make several models from it.

If you’d like to say hello in person, drop us an email, or telephone and we can show you around!

By Projects Curator Lucy Moore

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