Human prejudice when it comes to large sea mammals is about to fade away, as recently, a team of scientists have studied the sizes of 25 species of aquatic animals. Although the researchers were faced with the challenge of exact measurement, the study includes whales, squids, and sharks, among many others.
The assistant director of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C., and the primary author of the paper, Craig McClain states recalling people making claims of 60 feet giant squids, which he thought was extreme. He then started to check the scientific data which told a different story and did not account for the unrealistic claims.
In the 1800’s, when sea mammals were analyzed, the measurements were made inshore. But, McClain says, the bodies of squids tend to stretch and loosen when decomposing, thus explaining the misleading measurements.
In the new research, the longest scientifically observed squid reached approximately 40 feet (12 meters). These new measurements were both based on data analysis and on historical research. McClain said that his team checked out the museums specimens, compared information with other scientists and collectors, and they even went on eBay to look for sample sale.
To encompass a wider variety of marine mammals in the study, the author of the paper invited undergraduate students to select and propose sea mammals that interested them the most. The research ended up including a wide range of know aquatic creatures such as the Great White Shark, the Giant Octopus, walruses, and some less known animals like the Giant Tubes Worm and the Colossal Squid.
The published results of the research was said to appear in PeerJ, Tuesday, January 13th.
But in some species the scientists have found a great variety of sizes. A coauthor of the study, PhD candidate, Meghan Balk from the University of New Mexico, analyzed the Southern Elephant Seal and several species of sharks. She states that her findings say that it’s not optimal to look at the biggest representatives when looking at a species.
She concludes that big isn’t always the most beneficial and that for many gigantic creatures their size is actually an inconvenience.
In spite of the challenges that McClain and his team faced, the study will be of great help for future reference and maybe even correct the old and erroneous measurements that are presented in today’s academic literature, databases and textbooks.
Image Source: Taenos