Friday Squid Blogging: Plastinated Squid

In Paris:

France’s National Museum of Natural History on Tuesday unveiled the world’s first “plastinated” squid—a 6.5-metre-long (21.25-feet) deep-sea beast donated by New Zealand and named in honour of a creature featuring in Maori legend.

Plastination entails replacing the animal’s water, fat and other liquids with a polymer that hardens.

It means the specimen can be appreciated in three dimensions in a dry, solid state, rather than in a jar filled with formalin or alcohol, whose glass distorts the view.

The squid was hauled up in January 2000 at a depth of 615 metres (2,000 feet) by fishermen off New Zealand.


The 65,000-euro (100,000-dollar) plastination, carried out by Italian lab VisDocta Research, took two and a half years, during which the specimen of Architeuthis sanctipauli lost 2.5 metres (seven feet) of its length through drying out.

Wheke is being given pride of place in the Paris museum’s Great Gallery of Evolution, its centrepiece exhibit on biodiversity.

The giant squid, Architeuthis, of which there are three sub-species, is a potent source of maritime tales of tentacled monsters able to grab a ship and pull it down to its doom. The critter memorably featured in Jules Vernes’ “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” trying to engulf the submarine Nautilus.

In real life, though, the species is rather less gigantic—about 13 metres (42.25 feet) from the caudal fin to the tip of its suckered tentacles. Females are larger than males.

Posted on March 28, 2008 at 4:29 PM11 Comments


Anders Thulin March 31, 2008 1:36 AM

Rather haphazard conversion beween feet and meter in the original article.

2.5 meters (the loss in length) is 8 feet, not 7 (assuming the international convention 1 foot = 0.3048 m). Other conversions are less blatantly off, but still oddly so.

phred14 April 2, 2008 2:43 PM

This sounds like the same process as “Body Works”, which has been touring with plastinated human bodies. I went to see this in Boston with my daughter’s science class a year or 2 back. Most interesting.

Reed June 19, 2008 12:28 PM

This is not the first plastinated squid. Plastinated squid exist at least in Tennessee and New Zealand. This is the first plastinated giant squid.

VISDOCTA September 30, 2008 8:18 AM

It is not correct to affirm that the Giant squid lose length during the preservation process as she perfectly maintained all her dimensions comprising the length! ST

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