Just how giant is a giant squid? Umpteen media report claim that this nigh-mythic animal can grow up to 18 meters (60 feet) in length. It turns out that shoddy data have been unleashed upon the kraken, however. Many individuals are measured when they wash ashore, after decomposition loosens their muscles and eager humans stretch their tentacles. One size estimate even came from someone counting his paces next to a beached squid! The biggest known giant squid was 12 meters (39 feet) long, but their average length is 7.3 meters (24 feet), and most individuals are shorter than 9.2 meters (30 feet).

Illustration by Emily M. Eng, National Geographic

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