WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Marine scientists studying the carcass of a rare colossal squid said Wednesday they had measured its eye at about 11 inches across -- bigger than a dinner plate -- making it the largest animal eye on Earth.
One of the squid's two eyes, with a lens as big as an orange, was found intact as the scientists examined the creature while it was slowly defrosted at New Zealand's national museum. It has been preserved there since being caught in the Ross Sea off Antarctica's northern coast last year.
"This is the only intact eye [of a colossal squid] that's ever been found," said Auckland University of Technology squid specialist Kat Bolstad.
"It's the largest known eye in the animal kingdom," Bolstad said.
The squid is the biggest specimen ever caught of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid. When caught, it measured 26 feet long and weighed about 1,000 pounds, but scientists believe the species may grow as long as 46 feet.