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Stoloteuthis Verrill, 1881

Michael Vecchione and Clyde F. E. Roper
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Three species are placed in this genus.
taxon links [up-->]Stoloteuthis leucoptera [up-->]Stoloteuthis maoria [up-->]Stoloteuthis weberi Monophyly Uncertain[down<--]Heteroteuthinae Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Heteroteuthinae


Species of Stoloteuthis are heteroteuthins with a large ventral shield (note the dramatic blue fringe to the shield in the title photograph) but exhibit unusual variability in the dorsal fusion of the head and mantle. The genus as constituted here may not form a natural group due to the inclusion of the poorly known S. weberi.


A heteroteuthin with ...


  1. Arms
    1. Arm suckers relatively larger in males but no arm asymmetry present.
    2. Arms II, in males, with one to several greatly enlarged.
    3. Arms I, in males, with glandular structures on one or both borders.
    4. Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
      Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

      Figure. Oral view of brachial crown (minus tentacles) of S. maoria, mature male, off S.E. New Zealand (44°02'S, 178°08'W), otter trawl at 230-421 m. Drawing by A. Hart.

    5. Arm tips in females not modified.
    6. Suckers of arms IV in females in two identical series.
    7. Arms with enlarged, membranous keels on arms III.

  2. Tentacles
    1. Tentacle organ proximal to or barely overlapping sucker-bearing portion of club.

  3. Funnel
    1. Funnel/mantle locking-apparatus with straight, simple groove in funnel component and straight, low ridge in mantle component.
      Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window
      Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

      Figure. Funnel/mantle locking-apparatus of S. leucoptera, 43°02'N, 69°04'W, NMNH 816246, left side of images is anterior. Top - Side-oblique view of the mantle component. Bottom - Frontal view of the funnel component. Photographs by M. Vecchione.

  4. Mantle
    1. Mantle broadly or narrowly fused to head dorsally, or free.
    2. Ventral mantle does not extend beyond middle of eyes.
  5. Fins
    1. Fin margins rounded posteriorly (except probably in S. maoria).


S. weberi, which is known only from the type specimen, was formerly placed in Heteroteuthis. This species lacks a dorsal head-mantle fusion, a feature that distinguishes it from all other Stoloteuthis, but in the arrangement of arm suckers, it resembles Stoloteuthis species. S. maoria was formerly placed in Iridoteuthis. Harman and Seki (1990) re-examined S. maoria and found that it was similar to Iridoteuthis iris in its broad head-mantle fusion, middorsal mantle buldge and posteriorly pointed fins. We place S. maoria in Stoloteuthis on the basis of the arm modifications in mature members of both sexes which are similar to Stoloteuthis leucoptera.

Comparison of species 

  Dorsal head-mantle fusion  Arm I glands (males)  Arm IV tip suckers  Posterior fin lobe 
S. leucoptera  Narrow  Dorsal & ventral margins  3-4 series  Rounded 
S. maoria  Broad  Ventral margins  2 series  angled (?) 
S. weberi  Absent (no fusion)
Unknown  Apparently 2 series  Rounded 

Life History

Young look similar to adults.
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Figure. Dorsal and ventral views of young S. leucoptera, 9.8 mm ML. Drawings from Vecchione, et al. (2001).


S. leucoptera is known from off the eastern United States and the eastern Atlantic including the Mediterranean Sea; S. weberi from Indonesia (7.6°S, 117.5°E) and S. maoria from off New Zealand. Unidentified species of Stoloteuthis have been reported from near the Kerguelens, Prince Edward Islands (southern Indian Ocean), Discovery Bank (southeast Atlantic (Nesis, 1982/87) and east of Tasmania (Villanueva and Sánchez, 1993).


Cairns, S. D. 1976. Biological results of the University of Miami deep-sea expeditions. 118. Cephalopods collected in the Straits of Florida by the R/V Gerda. Bull. Mar. Sci. 26: 233-272.

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.

Orsi Relini, L. and D. Massi. 1991. The butterfly squid Stoloteuthis leucoptera in the Mediterranean. J. Mar. Biol. Ass. U. K. 71: 47-51.

Vecchione, M., C. F. E. Roper and M. J. Sweeney. 1989. Marine flora and fauna of the eastern United States. Mollusca: Cephalopoda. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 73: 23 pp.

Vecchione, M., C. F. E. Roper, M. J. Sweeney and C. C. Lu. 2001. Distribution, relative abundance and developmental morphology of paralarval cephalopods in the western North Atlantic Ocean. NOAA Tech Rep. NMFS 152.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Stoloteuthis leucoptera
Location Gulf of Maine
Comments trawled in the Gulf of Maine
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Copyright © 1996 Laurie Minor-Penland
About This Page

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

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., USA

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Clyde F. E. Roper at

All Rights Reserved.

Citing this page:

Vecchione, Michael and Roper, Clyde F. E. 2007. Stoloteuthis Verrill, 1881. Version 26 December 2007 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Stoloteuthis/20033/2007.12.26 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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