go to the Tree of Life home page
Under Construction
This is an archived version of a Tree of Life page. For up-to-date information, please refer to the current version of this page.

Ancistrocheiridae Pfeffer 1912

Ancistrocheirus lesueurii (Orbigny 1842)

Ancistrocheirus Gray 1849

Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young

Although only a single species is recognized in the Ancistroceiridae, differences in paralarval morphology between Atlantic and Pacific specimens suggest that more than one species exists (Young, et al., 1992).

Containing group: Enoploteuthid families


Ancistrocheirus lesueurii is of moderate size (25 cm ML) and occupies tropical and subtropical waters of the world's oceans at mesopelagic depths. Adults may be associated with the ocean floor over the slope (Nesis, 1982/7). They bear hooks on the arms and tentacles and have large sagittate fins. Photophores have a distinctive arrangement and appearance. Those on the ventral surface of the head and mantle occur in two very different size catagories.


An oegopsid squid ...


  1. Buccal crown
    1. Buccal membrane pigmented.
  2. Photophores
    1. Photophores on head and mantle in two distinct size classes.
    2. Generally 22 large photophores on ventral surface of mantle arranged in fixed pattern of twos and fours as follows: 4+2+4+2+4+2+4.
    3. Large photophores on head, funnel, base of arms II and tentacular stalk.
    4. Numerous very small photophores on fins, mantle, funnel, head and arms IV.
    5. No photophores on eyeballs or viscera.
    6. Additional photophores present in mature squid: Mature males with large, lidded, elongate photophores on aboral tips of arms IV; mature females with apparent photophores on tips of dorsal six arms
  3. Mantle and fins
    1. Fins slightly subterminal.
    2. Tail fleshy, large; vesicles absent.
    3. Gladius with long pointed rostrum.
  4. Head, arms, and tentacles
    1. Nuchal folds present.
    2. Hooks present on all arms.
    3. Tentacular clubs with hooks in two series on manus; suckers absent from manus; dactylus reduced.
    4. Tentacles not modified near base; stalk "ligament" and vein leave tentacle at base and in a membrane.
  5. Internal anatomy
    1. Nidamental glands present.
    2. Oviducal glands normal.
    3. Oviducts equally developed.


The number of large photophores on the mantle apparently increases through growth. A large mature female (180 mm Ml) from Hawaii had 24 of these organs.


Orbigny (1834-48) described Enoploteuthis lesueurii in 1842 from the Indian Ocean, and Gray (1849) designated it the type species of his genus Ancistrocheirus. In 1851, Verany described Loligo alessandrinii from off Messina, Mediterranean; it was first placed in Calliteuthis Verrill, 1880 by Appellof (1890), then Pfeffer in 1900 reassigned it to his new genus Thelidioteuthis. Subsequently both genera and their species were synonomyzed (Nesis, 1978). The Enoploteuthidae, Pyroteuthidae and Ancistrocheiridae generally, have been considered subfamilies of the Enoploteuthidae. Clarke (1988) raised each subfamily to familial status and Young and Harman (1998) provided cladistic support for this arrangement.

A list of all nominal genera and species in the Ancistrocheiridae can be found here. The list includes the current status and type species of all genera, and the current status, type repository and type locality of all species and all pertinent references.

Life History

Paralarval stages are known.


This species is found throughout the tropical and subtropical oceans of the world (Young et al., 1998).

Insufficient material has been available for critical species-level comparisons of specimens from different regions.


Appellof, A. 1890. Teuthologische Beitrage I. Ctenopteryx n.g., Veranya sicula Krohn, Calliteuthis Verrill. Bergens Museums Aarsbertning, 1889(3):1-34.

Clarke, M.R. 1988. Evolution of Recent Cephalopods - A Brief Review. pp. 331-340. In: M.R. Clarke and E.R. Trueman, (eds.), The Mollusca, Vol. 12, Paleontology and Neontology of Cephalopods. Academic Press.

Gray, J.E. 1849. Catalogue of the Mollusca in the Collection of the British Museum, Part I. "Cephalopoda Antepedia". London, British Museum (Nat. Hist.), 164 pages.

Nesis, K. N. 1978. The subfamily Ancistrocheirinae (Enoploteuthidae). Zoologichesky Zhurnal, 57(3):446-449. (In Russian, English summary).

Nesis, K. N. 1982. Abridged key to the cephalopod mollusks of the world's ocean. 385+ii pp. Light and Food Industry Publishing House, Moscow. (In Russian.). Translated into English by B. S. Levitov, ed. by L. A. Burgess (1987), Cephalopods of the world. T. F. H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ, 351pp.

Okutani, T. 1974. Epipelagic decapod cephalopods collected by micronekton tows during the EASTROPAC expeditions, 1967-1968 (systematic part). Bull. Tokai Reg. Fish. Res. Lab., 80: 29-118.

Orbigny, A.d' 1834-48. In A. d'Ferussac and A. d'Orbigny, A., 1834-1848. Histoire Naturelle Generale et Particuliere Cephalopodes Acetabulifäres Vivants et Fossiles, J.B. Bailliere, Paris, 96 pages + LVI + 361 pages. Atlas of 144 plates.

Pfeffer, G. 1900. Synopsis der oegopsiden Cephalopoden. Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissenschafthchen Anstalten, 17(2):147-198.

Verany, J.B. 1851. Cephalopodes de la Mediterranee. Mollusques Mediterraneens Observes, Decrits, Figures et Chromolithographies d'gores le vivant ouvrage dedii ASM le roi Charles Albert, I:1-132, 41 plates.

Young, R. E., L. A. Burgess, C. F. E. Roper, M. J. Sweeney and S. J. Stephen. 1998. Classification of the Enoploteuthidae, Pyroteuthidae and Ancistrocheiridae. Smithsonian Contr. to Zoology, 586: 239-255.

Young, R. E. and R. Harman. 1998. The phylogeny of the "enoploteuthid families." Smithson. Contr. Zool., No. 586: 257-270.

Title Illustrations

Ancistrocheirus lesueurii drawing from Okutani, 1974, with permission, color added.

Other illustrations

(Photographs by R. E. Young).

About This Page

National Marine Fisheries Service
Systematics Laboratory
National Museum of Natural History
Washington, D. C. 20560

Richard E. Young

Dept of Oceanography
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Citing this page:

Vecchione, Michael and Young, Richard E. 1999. Ancistrocheiridae Pfeffer 1912. Ancistrocheirus lesueurii (Orbigny 1842). Ancistrocheirus Gray 1849. Version 01 January 1999 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Ancistrocheirus_lesueurii/19632/1999.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

close box

This page is a Tree of Life Leaf Page.

Each ToL leaf page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a leaf at the tip of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a leaf and a branch of the Tree of Life is that a leaf cannot generally be further subdivided into subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

close box

Ancistrocheirus lesueurii

Page Content




Explore Other Groups

random page