Giant squid — which may have inspired the tale of the legendary sea monster, the Kraken — don't look so much like monsters when they're babies. They're actually kind of cute.
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This is the first time that giant squid babies have ever been knowingly caught. The three specimens were caught by Japanese fishermen back in 2013, but they were only recently identified as giant squid babies, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Part of the reason they took so long to be identified was because giant squid babies are, perhaps unsurprisingly, actually quite large. The specimens varied from 5.5 to 13 inches, which makes them comparable to many normal adult squid. In fact, it's possible that giant squid babies are caught by fishermen frequently, but these are always misidentified and chucked overboard or turned into calamari.
It took genetic analysis at the Institute of Natural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Hyogo in Japan to determine that these specimens were in fact giant squid.
“It’s hard to advance this research if we don’t have specimens. It would be great to spread more awareness about giant squid babies among fishermen so we can gather more specimens in museums and aquariums and understand how these babies live and behave,” said Toshifumi Wada, the cephalopod expert that performed the genetic analysis, to Motherboard.
In fact, these specimens are already shedding light on giant squid behavior. Wada noted that adult giant squid live by themselves, but two of the captured juveniles were found together. It's therefore possible that they travel in groups when they're young.
Giant squid adults are fairly elusive themselves. Until as recently as 2012, they had never been filmed alive and were only known from dead specimens that had washed ashore.
The babies are scheduled to go on display at aquariums in Shimane and Kagoshima, in Japan.