Giant Squid in Suspended Animation
Seemingly frozen in mid-swim, this "plastinated" giant squid is one of two awaiting their public debuts later this month.
Plastination, which replaces fat and body fluids with silicone, has been carried out on a giant squid before (picture), but the two newly plastinated squid are "the most lifelike specimens yet," said New Zealand squid expert Steve O'Shea.
O'Shea, of the Auckland University of Technology, donated the giant squid, which had been found washed up on a New Zealand beach in 2004, to the Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany. The institute is led by anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who invented the preservation process.
The force behind the "Body Worlds" museum exhibitions, von Hagens's organization has plastinated elephants, humans, and other animals (see pictures of plastinated humans from another group). But the giant squid—rare, delicate, and boneless—were the institute's biggest plastination challenges yet, O'Shea said. (Not to be confused with celebrity plastic surgery.)
—Dave Hansford in Wellington, New Zealand