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The most-hyped monster to arrive in New York this summer wasn’t Godzilla, but a giant squid, plucked from the depths 2,000 feet off New Zealand-‘s coast, flash-frozen, bleached, and stinking of ammonia. Now pickled at the American Museum of Natural History, the 23-foot-long baby is a sublime specimen, dead but whole. Its arrival in Gotham sparked a mini-sensation, proof of the enduring popularity these 10-tentacled bandits have enjoyed ever since Jules Verne conjured one up to attack Captain Nemo. It was also the kind of discovery that gives zoologist Clyde Roper (pictured) his raison d’etre. A fan of squishy things all his life, Roper has completely immersed himself in the study of what he calls “the new dinosaur”: Architeuthis dux, the -giant squid. No one has ever caught one alive or seen one in its natural habitat, but two years ago, Roper and his team of scientists came pretty damn close. They attached -“crittercams” to the backs of squid-eating sperm whales and tracked the goliaths’ search for dinner thousands of feet underwater. The expedition, documented in the National Geographic film Sea Monsters: Search for the Giant Squid, wasn’t a complete success; no footage of the elusive invertebrates was obtained. But the undersea images Monsters does offer—of the blood-red vampire squid, of Roper wresting with a cannibalistic humble squid, even of an enormous sleeper shark as it circles their submersible—are reason enough to take the plunge and believe the hype. Roper will introduce and discuss the film at noon Friday & Tuesday, July 24 & 28, at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)