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The Great Architeuthis

A dramatic encounter with a giant mollusc off the coast of Teneriffe is captured in woodcut in the 1872 work The Ocean World: Being a description of the sea and some of its inhabitants, by naturalist Louis Figuier.

As access to primary materials from remote expeditions was limiting in that era, original illustrations were copied and recopied in many subsequent works.

Figuier’s figure was apparently redrawn from an earlier account by an M. Berthelot, and later depictions appear in multiple ocean-themed books.

While downstream copies typically grow ever more spectacular in the retelling, at least one instance- Henry Lee’s 1884 “Sea Monsters Unmasked”- bears an amusingly candid disclaimer: “In the accompanying illustration, the size of the squid is exaggerated, but not so much as has been supposed.”