A colossal squid being slowly thawed in New Zealand for a world-first examination by a team of scientists could have grown to about 750 kilograms if it had lived out its life in the ocean, expert Steve O'Shea said on Tuesday.
Although the 475 kilogram squid, caught in Antarctic waters 15 months ago and frozen pending a full-scale investigation, will not be fully defrosted until Wednesday morning, O'Shea said it was already obvious that the "absolute monster" would have got bigger, dpa reproted.
Scientists from Sweden arrived at New Zealand's national museum in Wellington on Tuesday to see the most intact specimen of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni squid caught and others around the world are watching its gradual thaw on a webcast.
An excited O'Shea told Radio New Zealand, "We certainly haven't seen the largest colossal squid yet - they do get a lot larger.
"When we first proposed back in 2003 that a 500 kilogram squid might exist, I think people thought there goes O'Shea again - he's prone to exaggeration.
"But we've got the concrete proof they need to actually say they likely grow even larger than 500 kilograms which is truly without parallel in the invertebrate kingdom."
He added that they "might even get up to the 750 kilogram mark."
O'Shea said scientists were not yet able to discern the sex of the specimen they were thawing, saying, "There's a lot of work we've got to do on it yet."
He said the defrosting process was going according to plan. "It's absolutely fresh - there is no deterioration whatsoever," he said. "It's as good as the day it was born - it just smells like fresh squid."
After it has been thawed and thoroughly examined, the squid will be fixed in a formalin solution for 3-4 weeks before being placed in a purpose-built tank for display at the museum later this year.
"I can assure you this specimen will go on display and you'll stand there in awe," O'Shea said.