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Histioteuthis atlantica (Hoyle 1885)

Richard E. Young and Michael Vecchione
Holotype: Male, 35 mm ML.Deposited in BM #1890.1.24.18.
Containing group: Histioteuthidae


H. atlantica has a circumglobal distribution in southern waters and reaches a size of, at least, 258 mm ML.


  1. Photophores
    1. Large, compound photophores with posteriorly directed reflectors (see black arrows in photograph to the right).
    2. Arms IV with 4 longitudinal series on arm base (dorsal series with organs of mixed sizes).
    3. Terminal third of each arm I-III with row of large, elliptical, darkly pigmented, simple organs.
  2.  image info

    Figure. Ventral view of an anterior segment of the ventral mantle of H. atlantica, 57 mm ML, 48°S, 145°E, USNM cat. no. 814656. Black arrows point to the Posterior reflector of large photophores; white arrows point to small photophores. Photograph by R. Young.


More details of the description can be found here.

Species of the reversa-group are distinguished by the following characters:

  1. Compound photophores
    1. Large and small photophores intermixed on ventral surface of mantle .
    2. 18 photophores (17 large and 1 small) around right eyelid.
  2. Beak
    1. Weakly developed median ridge on each lateral wall.
  3. Tubercles
    1. Absent.

This species is most easily separated from other members of the reversa group by (1) the arrangement of photophores on arms IV (H. reversa - 4 series, dorsal one with all small organs; H. eltaninae - 3 series), (2) the absence of specialized arm-tip photophores in H. eltaninae and H. reversa.

The posteriorly directed reflectors are also known in H. reversa, but the condition in H. eltaninae is unknown. With the exception of information on the posterior reflectors of the compound photophores, the above information is from Voss (1969).

Life History

Numerous small, darkly pigmented, simple photophores on the posterior region of the mantle only appear at maturity. The number and density of the photophores increases with size of the squid. Mature females are unknown. (Voss, et al., 1998)

 image info

Figure. Ventral and dorsal views of the mantle of a mature male of H. atlantica, 115 mm ML, 40° 18'S, 39° 12'W. Drawing from Voss, et al., 1998..


Geographical distribution

Histioteuthis atlantica exhibits a circumglobal southern distribution. Its distribution strongly overlaps with the more southern distribution of its close relative H. eltaninae. Histioteuthis atlantica is regularly found over ocean basins, shelf and plateau areas. (Voss, et al., 1998)

 image info

Figure. Chart or the geographical distribution of H. atlantica. Modified from Voss, et al., 1998.


Voss, N. A. 1969. A monograph of the Cephalopoda of the North Atlantic: The family Histioteuthidae. Bull. Mar. Sci., 19: 713-867.

Voss, N.A., K. N. Nesis, P. G. Rodhouse. 1998. The cephalopod family Histioteuthidae (Oegopsida): Systematics, biology, and biogeography. Smithson. Contr. Zool., 586(2): 293-372.

Title Illustrations
Scientific Name Histioteuthis atlantica
View ventral
Copyright © 2000 E. McSweeny
Scientific Name Histioteuthis atlantica
Location 43° 45''S, 174° 07''W
Reference from Voss, N. A. 1969. A monograph of the Cephalopoda of the North Atlantic: The family Histioteuthidae. Bull. Mar. Sci. 19:713-867. printed with permission.
Sex m
View ventral
Size 53 mm ML
Copyright © 1969 Bulletin of Marine Science
About This Page

Richard E. Young

Dept of Oceanography
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

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

Citing this page:

Young, Richard E. and Vecchione, Michael. 2000. Histioteuthis atlantica (Hoyle 1885). Version 01 January 2000 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Histioteuthis_atlantica/19789/2000.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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