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The Histioteuthidae contains mostly weakly muscled species of moderate size (up to 33 cm ML). In general they have very long, thick arms and short mantles with small rounded fins. One of the most distinctive features of these squid is the different size and orientation of the eyes. The left eye is much larger than the right eye and has a semitubular, rather than a hemispherical, shape. This larger eye, while mobile, generally is directed posterodorsally as indicated by the distribution of iridophores on its outer surface. In this position the eye, on an obliquely oriented squid, is directed vertically upward. During the day in middepths this eye, presumably looks for silhouettes of animals against the dim downwelling light. The right eye has a normal shape and points laterally and slightly downward. Learn more about the eyes here.

Figure. Left and right side views of Stigmatoteuthis hoylei as the squid holds onto large forceps in a ship-board aquarium.

Figure. Posterodorsal view of S. hoylei held by hand. The view is directly into the upward-looking large eye but the smaller eye cannot be seen.

The systematics of the Histioteuthidae is well known compared to most families of oceanic squids due to the excellent and detailed work of N. Voss and her colleagues. Most of the information presented here on the species of this family comes directly (often verbatum) from their works. For a fuller account of this family the viewer should consult these papers, especially Voss, 1969 and Voss, Nesis and Rodhouse, 1998.

Brief diagnosis:

A member of the histioteuthid families ...

  • with large, characteristic, integumental photophores on head, arms and mantle.


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