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Pholidoteuthidae Adam, 1950

Pholidoteuthis Adam, 1950

Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young

The family contains the following two rather dissimilar species:

Containing group: Lepidoteuthid families


The two species in the family are large (P. boschmai: 72 cm ML; P. adami:78 cm ML) but moderate to somewhat weakly-muscled squids. P. adami has been reported to be common in the Gulf of Mexico (Voss, 1956) and is fairly common in the slope water of the North West Atlantic to at least New England (MV, pers. observation). P. boschmai is thought to be cosmopolitan in tropical and temperate seas. Squids from different oceans, however, have not been closely compared.


An oegopsid ...


  1. Arms
    1. Arms with biserial suckers present; hooks absent.
  2. Tentacles
    1. Long, slender clubs, only slightly expanded.
    2. Length of manus ca. 2 times length of dactylus.
    3. Locking-apparatus absent.
    4. Small flaps with short membranes present near bases of lateral club suckers (=abortive trabeculae ?); flaps not attached to protective membrane (see arrows in photograph below).
       image info

      Figure. Oral-lateral view of a portion of the club of P. boschmai stained with methylene blue to show the small flaps. Note the large, flat trabeculae that extend nearly to the margin of the protective membrane.

    5. Suckers in four series.
    6. Suckers with elongate apertures.

      More information on the tentacles can be found here.

  3. Mantle
    1. Conspicuous dermal cusions or papillose tubercules present (see species accounts).
  4. Photophores
    1. Absent.


Major differences between species are:
  1. The dermal cushions of P. adami are very different from the mushroom-shaped papillose tubercules tubercules of P. boschmai.
  2. The gladii are very different with P. adami having a secondary conus and P. boschmai having apparently a primary conus and very differently shaped vanes.
  3. P. adami has large fins and long arms and P. boschmai short fins and short arms.

The two species look very different, but the nearly identical tentacular clubs, which are very peculiar, clearly indicates close relationship.


Two genera have been placed in this family: Tetronychoteuthis and Pholidoteuthis. Pfeffer erected the genus Tetronychoteuthis in 1900 based on a specimen he incorrectly thought to be Onychoteuthis dussumieri Orbigny, 1839. The latter, however, is a species of Onykia (formerly Moroteuthis) (Onychoteuthididae) (Roper and Lu, 1989; Nesis and Nikitina, 1990). Pholidoteuthis was erected by Adam (1950) for his new species Pholidoteuthis boschmai. Nesis and Nikitina (1990) demonstrated that Adam's species and that described by Pfeffer are the same species. They considered Tetronychoteuthis to be a nomina dubia, leaving Pholidoteuthis as the valid generic name. According to Roper and Lu (1989), the case must be referred to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. However, since this has not been done, we follow Nesis and Nikitina in accepting Pholidoteuthis as the valid generic name.

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


Adam, W. 1950. Un cephalopode nouveau: Pholidoteuthis boschmai gen. Et sp. Nov. Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 53: 1-8.

Pfeffer, G. 1900. Synopsis der oegopsiden Cephalopoden. Mitt. Hamburgischen Zoologische Museum.17: 147-198.

Goldman, D. A. 1995. A juvenile of the scaled squid, Pholidoteuthis adami Voss, 1956 (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida), from the Florida Keys. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 108: 136-146.

Nesis, K.N. and I.V. Nikitina. 1990. Revision of the squid family Lepidoteuthidae. Zool. Zhurnal, 69: 39-49.

Orbigny, A. d'. 1834-1848. In: A. de Ferussac and A. d'Orbigny. Histoire naturelle generale et particuliere cephalopodes acetabuliferes vivants et fossiles. Paris.

Roper, C.F.E. and C.C. Lu. 1989. Systematic status of Lepidoteuthis, Pholidoteuthis and Tetronychoteuthis (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida). Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash., 102: 805-807.

Roper, C.F.E. and C.C. Lu. 1990. Comparative morphology and function of dermal structures in oceanic squids (Cephalopoda). Smithson. Contr. Zool., No. 493: 1-40.

Sweeney, M. J. and C. F. E. Roper. 1998. Classification, type localities and type repositories of Recent Cephalopoda. Smithson. Contr. Zool., No. 586 (vol. II): 561-599.

Voss, G. L. 1956. A review of the cephalopods of the Gulf of Mexico. Bull. Mar. Sci. Gulf Carib. 6:85-178.

Title Illustrations
Scientific Name Pholidoteuthis adami
Comments Scale bar is 1 cm.
Reference from Goldman, D. A. 1995. A juvenile of the scaled squid, Pholidoteuthis adami Voss, 1956 (Cephalopoda: Oegopsida), from the Florida Keys. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 108:136-146.
Life Cycle Stage juvenile
Size 37 mm ML (54 mm ML to tip of tail)
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. Pholidoteuthidae Adam, 1950. Pholidoteuthis Adam, 1950. Version 01 January 1999 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Pholidoteuthis/19835/1999.01.01 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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