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Some octopoteuthids reach a large size (160 cm ML); all have a distinctive appearance and are not easily confused with any other squids. Tentacles do not grow much beyond the paralarval stage. They are lost in subadult Octopoteuthis and form only minute appendages in subadult Taningia. The mantle is broad and weakly muscled; large muscular fins apparently provide most of the force for swimming. The short arms carry two series of hooks except near the tips where they are replaced by two series of suckers. Some or all arms terminate in photophores. Arm tips of Octopoteuthis are frequently lost during capture.

Brief diagnosis:

A member of the lepidoteuthid families ...

  • without tentacles (rudiments present in some subadults).
  • with hooks in two series over most of arm.
  • without dermal cushions on mantle.


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