According to Mr. H. Woodward, the undigested remains of fossil cuttle-fishes are frequently noticed within the ribs of the Ichthyosauri, and Plesiosauri of our Lias.* Mr. A. E. Verrill thinks it probable that only three distinct forms exist amongst the large Newfoundland specimens of Architeuthis, and two of these may be merely the males and females of one species. The Grand Banks specimen (Architeuthis princeps) was found floating on the surface, on the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, October 1871, by Captain Campbell, of the Schooner 'B. D. Hoskins,' of Gloucester, Mass. The body measured fifteen feet in length, four feet eight inches in circumference. The arms were mutilated, but the portions remaining were estimated to be nine or ten feet long, and twenty-two inches in circumference, two being shorter than the rest. It was estimated to weigh 2000 lbs. The "Thimble Tickle" specimen was captured on the 2nd November, 1878, by Stephen Sherring, a fisherman, who was out in a boat with two other men, and observed some bulky object not far from shore, and they supposed it to be a portion of a wreck, and rowed towards it. To their horror they found themselves close to a huge fish, having large glassy eyes, which was making desperate efforts to escape, and churning the water into foam by the movement of its immense arms and tail. It was aground, and the tide was ebbing. From the funnel at the back of its head it was ejecting large volumes of water, this being its method of moving backwards, the force of the stream, by the reaction of the surrounding medium, driving it in the required direction. At times the water from the siphon was as black as ink. Finding the monster partially disabled, the fishermen plucked up courage enough to throw the grapnel of their bout, the sharp flukes of which, having barbed points, sunk into the soft body. To the grapnel they had attached a stout rope which they had carried ashore and tied to a tree, so as to prevent the fish from going out with the tide. It was a happy thought, for the devil-fish found himself effectually moored to the shore. His straggles were terrific as he flung his ten arms about in dying agony. The fishermen took care to keep a respectful distance from the long tentacles, which ever and anon darted out like great tongues from the central mass. At length it became exhausted, and as the water receded it expired. The fishermen, knowing no better, proceeded to convert it into dog's meat. It was a splendid specimen, the largest yet taken, the body measuring twenty feet from the beak to the extremity of the tail.....The circumference of the body is not stated, but one of the arms measured thirty-five feet. This must have been a tentacle. Twenty other specimens are mentioned by Mr. Verrill, and their dimensions given.
* Maurz's 'Sailing Directions,' as quoted by Mr. A. E. Verrill.
† Description de 'Deux Céphalopodes gigantesques,' par P. Harting.
* ' Intellectual Observer,' vol. xi. p. 165.
It is not only on the north-eastern coasts of America that these gigantic cephalopods have been met with, for Mr. W. H. Dall, discovered a large and very interesting species, viz., Onychoteuthis robusta, near Iliu-link, Unalashka Island, off the coast of Alaska, in 1872, thrown upon the beach, and Mr. T. W. Kirk, in the ' Transactions of the Wellington Philosophical Society,' October, 1879, describes the occurrence of five specimens of giant cuttle-fish on the coast of New Zealand, of the species Architeuthis Mouchezi(?). The cuttle-bone of one, when first extracted, measured six feet three inches in length, and eleven inches in width.*
* * The Cephalopods of the North Eastern Coast of America,' Parts i. and ii., by A. E. Verrill.
Large specimens are found in Japan, and also at Bermuda, and a sailor who had seen some very large at the latter place, and had heard of people being attacked by them whilst bathing, told me that he had ever after felt shy of bathing in the sea, and that even the thought of them made him shudder. A friend of mine told me that, on his voyage to Ceylon, many years ago, he used to beguile the time by fishing, and once he caught a huge cephalopod. When it was hauled on board, it stuck and clung with such tenacity to the deck and ropes, that it could not be pulled off, and was at last cut to pieces with a hatchet.
M. Flourens communicated to the French Academy an account of an enormous specimen which was seen by Lieut. Bouyer of the French Steamer 'Alécton,' in November 1860, forty leagues from Teneriffe. The body appeared to be from fifteen to eighteen feet in length, and it was of a reddish colour. It has been designated, Architeuthis Bouyeri, provisionally.
The Norwegian Kraken, Kraxen, or Krabben, was held to belong to the Cephalopods, and old Eric Pontoppidan, a Norwegian bishop, describes it as an animal the largest in creation, whose body arises above the surface of the water like a mountain, and its arms like the masts of ships; and he adds, that a whole regiment of soldiers could easily go through their manoeuvres on its back. The Bishop of Midaros is said to have discovered one of these gigantic krakens asleep in the sun, and believing it to be a large rock, raised an altar on its surface and celebrated Mass. The kraken remained stationary during the ceremony, but the bishop had scarcely regained the shore, before the monster replunged into the deep.*
The Hydra of Lerna, destroyed by Hercules, was most certainly a polypus, or sepia, and in at least one of the early representations of the subject, the animal is most correctly drawn as a cuttle-fish or polypus. Montfaucon represents the Hydra as a "Monster with several heads - some seven, others nine, and others fifty - but that it was not a dragon is evident, not only from the waves which are at its feet, but also from the form and capaciousness of its breast, and whole body; and again, its connection with the ocean can be traced in the crab being sent to its assistance by Juno, to bite Hercules in the heel, and when he crushed it, he overcame the Hydra. Juno, unable to succeed in her attempts to lessen the fame of Hercules, placed the crab amongst the constellations, and it forms one of the signs of the zodiac. It represents the month of June, because, when the sun has come to this constellation he begins to go backwards like a crab".†