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Giant squid species have inspired countless legends and tales of killer sea monsters, but a recent discovery of a colossal squid is no myth. Creative Commons

It has inspired countless legends, spawned tales of a killer kraken and even a viral photo hoax or two, but a recent discovery of a colossal squid -- the biggest invertebrate on Earth and one of the most elusive creatures on the planet -- is no myth. The 770-pound (350-kilogram) colossal squid, a close cousin of the giant squid that inhabits the waters around Antarctica, New Zealand and the southernmost tip of South America, was recently caught by fishermen in the Southern Ocean’s Ross Sea, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa reported. Biologists with the museum dissected the gigantic cephalopod Tuesday -- and live-streamed the procedure via YouTube.

At more than a foot across, its eyes were the size of dinner plates and the biggest in the animal kingdom. The colossal squid's beak was as large as a human hand, and its body measured 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) from fin to tentacle. It is one of only two intact colossal squid specimens ever recovered and presents an “exciting opportunity for scientists,” said Veronika Meduna, a reporter with Radio New Zealand’s “Our Changing World.”

“We’ve known that colossal squid exist for quite a while,” she said, but most of what scientists understand about them has come from colossal squid remains recovered from the stomachs of sperm whales, or from the imprints left on the whales’ skin by its tentacles. Little is known about the squid’s ecology and biology.

Watch the dissection of the deep-sea colossal squid here:

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