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Lycoteuthidae Pfeffer, 1908

Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young
This family is divided into two subfamilies and four genera with five species.
taxon links [down<--]Enoploteuthid_families [up-->]Lampadioteuthis [up-->]Lycoteuthis [up-->]Nematolampas [up-->]Selenoteuthis Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Enoploteuthid families


Lycoteuthids are mostly small, muscular squids occupying mesopelagic depths during the day and migrating into near-surface waters at night. They are tropical and subtropical in distribution but are not known from the North Pacific. They possess a large variety of luminous organs. Oval photophores are found on the tentacles, eyeballs and viscera in all species and on the arms, head, mantle and fins in some. Strong sexual dimorphism in general morphology occurs in some species.


A member of the enoploteuthid families ...


  1. Arms
    1. Arms with biserial suckers; hooks absent.
  2. Tentacle
    1. Tentacular clubs with quadraserial suckers; hooks absent.
  3. Tail
    1. Tail slender, long or short, without vesicles, extends well posterior to gladius.
  4. Photophores
    1. Ocular: 4 or 5 oval photophores present on eyeball.
    2. Viscera: anal, branchial, postero-abdominal organs present on viscera. Abdominal photophores present in most species.
    3. Tentacles: 2-5 spherical organs embedded in tentacles.

      Figure. Ventral view of Lycoteuthis "diadema" showing photophore terminology. Drawing from Chun (1910), labels added.


A variety of other photophores are found in specific genera or species.

Comparisons of subfamilies:

  Hectocotylus Abdominal photophores Ocular photophores Rostrum on gladius
Lampadioteuthinae Present Absent Four Present
Lycoteuthinae Absent Present Five Absent

A single species, Lampadioteuthis megaleia, exists in the Lampadioteuthinae. The three genera of the Lycoteuthinae can be separated as follows:

  Male genitalia Greatly elongated arms (males) Large photophore at posterior mantle apex Photophores on arms II and III
Lycoteuthis Paired Arms II No Subterminal, many
Nematolampas Single Arms III* No Subterminal, single or many
Selenoteuthis paired None Yes Terminal, single
*Nematolampas venezuelensis also has long arms II but not as long as arms III.


Chun (1903) erected the family Thaumatolampadidae for the species now known as Lycoteuthis lorigera. In 1908 Pfeffer placed this species in the subfamily Lycoteuthinae of the Onychoteuthidae. Berry (1914) removed the lycoteuthids from the Enoploteuthidae and erected the family Lycoteuthidae for them. Since the Name Thaumatolampadidae had not been used for nearly 50 years Voss (1962) stated that this name should not be maintained regardless of possible priority. Berry (1916) erected the family Lampadioteuthidae for Lampadioteuthis megaleia. Naef (1923) included the Lycoteuthinae as a subfamily of the Enoploteuthidae. Voss(1956) maintained the separate familial status for the Lycoteuthidae and in 1962 maintained the subfamilial status for the Lampadioteuthinae.

A list of all nominal genera and species in the Lycoteuthidae 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.


Arocha, F. 2003. A new species of Nematolampas (cephalopoda: Oegopsida) from the Western Central Atlantic with an overview of the family Lycoteuthidae. Bull Mar. Sci., 72: 941-953.

Berry, S.S. 1914. Notes on a Collection of Cephalopods from the Kermadec Islands. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, 46(24):134-149.

Berry, S.S. 1916. Cephalopoda of the Kermadec Islands. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 68:45-66.

Chun, C. 1903. Uber Leuchtorgane und Augen von Tiefsee-Cephalopoden. Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, 13:67-91, 14 figures.

Naef, A. 1921-1923. Die Cephalopoden. Fauna e Flora del Golfo di Napoli, Monographie 35, Vol I, Parts I and II, Systematik, pp 1-863.

Pfeffer, G. 1908. Teuthologische Bemerkungen. Mitteilungen aus dem Naturhistorischen Museum Hamburg, 25:289-295.

Voss, G.L. 1956. A Review of the Cephalopods of the Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science of the Gulf and Caribbean, 6(2):85-178.

Voss, G. L. 1962. A monograph of the Cephalopoda of the North Atlantic. I. The Family Lycoteuthidae. Bull. Mar. Sci. Gulf Carib. 12: 264-305.

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

Title Illustrations
Scientific Name Selenoteuthis scintillans
Location Bahamas
Comments collected by submersible
Sex m
Copyright © 1996 M. Vecchione
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. Lycoteuthidae Pfeffer, 1908. Version 01 January 1999 (complete). http://tolweb.org/Lycoteuthidae/19636/1999.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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