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Giant squid, once believed to be mythical creatures, are squid of the Architeuthidae family, represented by as many as eight species of the genus Architeuthis. They are deep-ocean dwelling animals that can grow to a tremendous size: recent estimates put the maximum size at 13 m (43 ft) for females and 10 m (33 ft) for males from caudal fin to the tip of the two long tentacles (second only to the colossal squid at an estimated 14 m (46 ft), one of the largest living organisms). The mantle is only about 2 m (7 ft) in length (more for females, less for males), and the length of the squid excluding its tentacles is about 5 m (16 ft). There have been claims reported of specimens of up to 20 m (66 ft), but no animals of such size have been scientifically documented.On September 30, 2004, researchers from the National Science Museum of Japan and the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association took the first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat. Several of the 556 photographs were released a year later. The same team successfully filmed a live giant squid for the first time on December 4, 2006.Despite their great length, giant squid are not particularly heavy when compared to their chief predator, the sperm whale, because the majority of their length is taken up by their eight arms and two tentacles. The weights of recovered specimens have been measured in hundreds, rather than thousands, of kilograms. Post-larval juveniles have been discovered in surface waters off New Zealand, and there are plans to capture more such juveniles and maintain them in an aquarium in an attempt to learn more about the creature's biology and habits.
The Colossal Squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni), sometimes called the Antarctic or Giant Cranch Squid, is believed to be the largest squid species. It is the only member of the genus Mesonychoteuthis. Though it is known from only a few specimens, current estimates put its maximum size at 12–14 metres (39–46 feet) long, based on analysis of smaller and immature specimens, making it the largest known invertebrate.Unlike the giant squid, whose tentacles are equipped with suckers lined with small teeth, the suckers at the tips of the Colossal Squid's tentacles have sharp swiveling hooks. Its body is wider and stouter, and therefore heavier, than that of the giant squid. Colossal Squids are believed to have a longer mantle than giant squids, although their tentacles are shorter.The beak of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni is the largest known of any squid, exceeding that of Architeuthis in size and robustness. The Colossal Squid is also believed to have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom (even larger than those of giant squid).