The family includes the largest of all cephalopods. Specimens occasionally are found moribund at the surface of the ocean, but most records are from strandings or whale stomachs. Apparently world-wide in distribution. Many species have been named in the sole genus of the family, Architeuthis
, but they are so inadequately described and poorly understood that the systematics of the group is thoroughly confused. Total lengths of nearly 20 m and mantle lengths of nearly 6 m (not a complete specimen) have been recorded. Juveniles of species have been reported from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Architeuthidae
is characterised by a tetraserial armature on the tentacular clubs with large suckers in the medial rows of the manus and small suckers in the marginal rows; a distinct cluster of numerous small suckers and knobs at the proximal end of the manus; two longitudinal rows of alternating suckers and pads on the tentacular stalks; a straight simple funnel locking-cartilage; buccal connectives that attach to the dorsal border of arms IV; absence of photophores.