Not-so-"Giant" squid?

I may be mis-remembering my facts, but weren’t the carcasses of giant/colossal squid that washed up on shore in the 19th century supposed to be a whole lot bigger than the ones that we have found recently? I thought that the biggest squids (the beached carcasses from the late 1800s, in Newfoundland, I think) ranged about 60 feet in total length. The ones we have seen lately are plenty big, of course, but nowhere near the 50-60 foot monsters of yore!

As it happens, I have a copy of Ellis’ The Search for the Giant Squid at my desk.

Checking the reported measurements in the appendix, it seems most larger recovered Architeuthis specimens were 25-35 long, with a few outliers to the 55 foot length.

Largest individual is 57’, from New Zealand in 1887.

My guess is that your impressions were incorect

Not very many carcasses of colossal squid have ever been examined by science. We know that they can be as long as 46 feet long and maybe a little bigger. That seems close enough for government work to me. I still want one to attack a small ship I was in. Squid can be evil and very aggressive.

To me the numbers are always a little misleading – “50 feet long” is mostly accounted for by the squid’s two arms. The “body” of the squid is a small fraction of that length. So if you chop off the arms and tentacles, the squid is more car-sized than whale-sized.

It’s still big, but…

Also, I seem to remember that the arm length is difficult to measure because they are stretchy. It is tough to get them straight without stretching them beyond their true length.