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Opisthoteuthidae Verrill 1896

Michael Vecchione, Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003), and Richard E. Young
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We place five genera in the family. The generic composition of the family, however, is not stable at present.
Containing group: Cirrata

Introduction

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Figure. Opisthoteuthis agassizii (?) on the bottom (video frame). JSL II dive 1746; 25 April 1989; St. Vincent I.; depth = 586 m; temp. = 6.6°C (from Vecchione and Roper, 1991).

The body of these octopods is foreshortened along the anterior/posterior axis. The foreshortening is extreme in Opisthoteuthis which is known as the "flapjack" (pancake) devilfish due to its flattened appearance. The secondary web is absent. The radula is reduced or absent apparently reflecting the habit of swallowing prey whole (Aldred, et al., 1983). The cirri are short when compared to those of the Cirroteuthidae. Most opisthoteuthids alternate between sitting on the ocean floor and swimming just above it (e.g., Peyera, 1965). Opisthoteuthis swims mainly by contraction of the arm-web complex while Grimpoteuthis uses primarily powerful fin strokes to swim (Vecchione and Young, 1997). Some opisthoteuthids (species of Luteuthis and some species of Grimpoteuthis) apear, judging from their very gelatinous consistency, to be entirely pelagic. An AVI format video clip of the Opsithoteuthis shown at the right is available at Cephalopods in Action.

Brief diagnosis:

A cirrate ...

Characteristics

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Figure. Oral view of arm of Grimpoteuthis bathynectes, showing web nodule (arrow). Drawing modified from Voss and Pearcy, 1990.

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Figure. Left to right - Opisthoteuthis grimaldii shell (U-shaped), stained, photographed by R. Young; Cirroctopus glacialis shell (V-shaped), stained, photographed by R. Young; Luteuthis shuishi shell (W-shaped), photograph from O'Shea and Lu, 2002.

  1. Shape and consistency
    1. Body axis anterior-posteriorly compressed (shell reaches, or nearly reaches, posterior end of body; i.e., no gelatinous extension of the body exists posterior to the shell).

  2. Arms and web
    1. Suckers and cirri extend to tips of arms.
    2. Secondary web absent.
    3. Web nodules (= web support) present (arrow) in some genera.
    4. Suckers unmodified.

  3. Cirri
    1. Cirri short (length 0.4 - 2.5 times diameter of largest sucker).

  4. Shell
    1. Simple U-, V- or W-shaped.
    2. Lateral wings not expanded or only slightly expanded.

  5. Pigmentation
    1. Areolar spots present (arrow) in some genera.
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Figure. Side view of a young Opisthoteuthis albatrossi showing areolae (arrow). Drawing modified from Sasaki, 1929.

Nomenclature

O'Shea (1999) described a new genus, Enigmatiteuthis, which he placed in his family Grimpoteuthidae. He also placed Grimpoteuthis wulkeri, G. bathynectes and G. pacifica in his new genus. Collins (in press) in his examination of the North Atlantic species of Grimpoteuthis concluded that species of Enigmatiteuthis should be placed in Grimpoteuthis (i.e., Enigmatiteuthis is a junior synonym of Grimpoteuthis).

Discussion of Phylogenetic Relationships

The systematic positions of Grimpoteuthis and Luteuthis are uncertain. Voss and Pearcy (1990) place Grimpoteuthis in the family Opisthoteuthidae and O'Shea (1999) places it in its own family. O'Shea also places Luteuthis in its own family. Collins (in press) places Luteuthis in the Opisthoteuthidae but leaves Grimpoteuthis in its own family. We have adopted a conservative approach here pending a more thorough understanding of the family.

References

Aldred, R. G., M. Nixon and J. Z. Young. 1983. Cirrothauma murrayi Chun, a finned octopod. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond., 301: 1-54.

Nesis, K. N. 1982/87. 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.

O'Shea, Steve. 1999. The Marine Fauna of New Zealand: Octopoda (Mollusca: Cephalopoda). NIWA Biodiversity Memoir 112: 280pp.

O'Shea, S. and C. C. Lu. 2002. A New Species of Luteuthis (Mollusca: Cephalopoda: Cirroctopoda) from the South China Sea. Zoological Studies, 4: 119-126.

Pereya, W. T. 1965. New records and observations on the flapjack devilfish Opisthoteuthis californiana Berry. Pacif. Sci., 19: 427-441.

Voss, G. L. 1988. Evolution and phylogenetic relationships of deep-sea octopods (Cirrata and Incirrata). P. 253-276. In: Clarke, M. R. and E. R. Trueman (Eds.). The Mollusca. Vol. 12. Paleontology and Neontology of Cephalopods. Academic Press, New York. 355pp.

Voss, G. L. and W. G. Pearcy (1990). Deep-water octopods (Mollusca: Cephalopoda) of the Northeastern Pacific. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci., 47: 47-94.

Vecchione, M. and C. F.E. Roper. 1991 Cephalopods observed from submersibles in the western North Atlantic. Bull. Mar. Sci., 49(1-2):433-445.

Vecchione, M. and R. E. Young. 1997. Aspects of the functional morphology of cirrate octopods: locomotion and feeding. Vie Milieu 47(2):101-110..

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Opisthoteuthis grimaldii
Location Bahamas
Comments Captured by submersible
Image Use creative commons This media file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0.
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About This Page


National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D. C. , USA

Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003)
Laboratoire Arago, Banyuls-Sur-Mer, France


University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

Page: Tree of Life Opisthoteuthidae Verrill 1896. Authored by Michael Vecchione, Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003), and Richard E. Young. The TEXT of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License - Version 3.0. Note that images and other media featured on this page are each governed by their own license, and they may or may not be available for reuse. Click on an image or a media link to access the media data window, which provides the relevant licensing information. For the general terms and conditions of ToL material reuse and redistribution, please see the Tree of Life Copyright Policies.

Citing this page:

Vecchione, Michael, Katharina M. Mangold (1922-2003), and Richard E. Young. 2008. Opisthoteuthidae Verrill 1896. Version 21 May 2008 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Opisthoteuthidae/20089/2008.05.21 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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