The carcass of World’s Largest Squid Suggests the “Kraken” Might be Monogamous

A giant corpse recently gave big news to a team of marine scientists, as the corpse of female Architeuthis ducks was washed ashore with evidence of intercourse with a single person only. This discovery came as a surprise to researchers who have long held that these animals would take every opportunity of their mating to ensure reproductive success in such solitary species. Architeuthis, known to some as the “Kraken”, is the world’s largest squid species and a shining example of the vastness of the deep sea.

It can grow up to 13 meters (43 feet) in length for females, up to 10 meters (33 feet) for males, and is thought to swim at depths of about 300-1,000 meters (980–3,280 feet), although its data are incomplete due to their elusive nature. Swimming in obscure depths is far from the ideal dating setup, and as solitary creatures, it was assumed that they would take full advantage of any and all mating opportunities to strengthen their chances of passing DNA.

You can track a woman’s dating history by looking at the contents of the sperm packets embedded in her body, so if this assumption of an opportunistic sex life is true, you can find sperm packets from several men. However, the corpse of a female Architeuthis dux that recently floated in Japan told a different story. Containing five separate sperm packets, genetic analysis revealed that each belonged to a single male. It seemed that despite her maturity, the woman had only one man in her lifetime.

“We were almost certain they were isolated,” Noritaka Hirohashi, a biologist at Shimane University in Japan, told Live Science. “We just wanted to know how many men are involved in intercourse. So, it’s completely unexpected.” While those oceanographers may not be able to produce such good results under the pressure of the deep sea, our understanding of these animals is limited, although a study published earlier this year detailed the secret recipe for catching these sea monsters on camera with the help of robotic jellyfish.

This incomplete knowledge means that although we understand that males supply sperm to males in this packet, we do not know how the sperm eventually combines with the egg. It could be that she holds it for a rainy day that is suitable for some fertilization, or that the sperm takes her skin to reach the egg. Now, when no one is here for the shy squid (the system that suits them the most, it has it), the sperm packets of the male squid are really quite a few. On several occasions, brave chefs who were apparently short of time were seen to have their mouths and tongues infected by sperm packets of parboiled squid.