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Temporal range: Pliocene - recent[1]
Lesser flying squid (Todaropsis eblanae)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Oegopsida
Superfamily: Cranchioidea
Family: Ommastrephidae
Steenstrup, 1857

...and see text

Ommastrephidae is a family of squid containing three subfamilies, 11 genera, and over 20 species. They are widely distributed globally and are extensively fished for food. One species, Todarodes pacificus, comprised around half of the world's cephalopod catch annually.[2]

Some members of Ommastrephidae are known for their jet-propelled flight, earning them the common name of "flying squid".[3]


Funnel grooves of ommastrephid subfamilies

The ommastrephids are small to large squids, with mantle lengths ranging from that of the glass squid (Hyaloteuthis pelagica) at 9 cm (3.5 in),[4] to the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) at 1.5 m (4.9 ft).[5] The mantle narrows towards the back and possesses large terminal fins.[6] The family is characterized by an inverted T-shaped funnel locking cartilage.[7][6] They have an easily recognizable, slender, feather-shaped gladius with a hollow cone structure (the primary conus). Light organs (photophores) are present along the head and mantle of members of the subfamily Ommastrephinae.[7][6]

The gladius of Illex illecebrosus

Ommastrephid arms have a double series of suckers. The enlarged tips (the clubs) of the tentacles have four rows of suckers, except in the genus Illex, which has eight. Hooks are absent. One of the ventral arms develops into a secondary sexual organ (the hectocotylus) in males.[2]

All ommastrephids are active predators. Their arms and tentacles bear sharp teeth and are used to grasp and bring prey to their beaked mouths.[8] They are very strong swimmers, and some species are known to glide out of water to escape predators.[7]

Ommastrephid paralarvae are distinctive for having fused tentacles, looking like a single "proboscis". It gradually splits into two as the paralarvae grow becoming completely separated once they reach mantle lengths of 5 to 10 mm (0.20 to 0.39 in).[7][8]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Ommastrephids usually occur in pelagic waters, but can also be found in neritic habitats.[7] They are found worldwide.[2][8]


Northern shortfin squid
(Illex illecebrosus)
Humboldt squid
(Dosidicus gigas)
Neon flying squid
(Ommastrephes bartramii)
Sevenstar flying squid
(Martialia hyadesii)
Japanese flying squid
(Todarodes pacificus)

Ommastrephidae was first established by the Danish zoologist Japetus Steenstrup in 1857. It is classified under the suborder Oegopsina of the order Teuthida (squids). It is divided into three subfamiliesIllicinae, Ommastrephinae, and Todarodinae; further subdivided into 11 genera and more than 20 species.

These subfamilies, genera, species, and subspecies are classified under Ommastrephidae:

  • Family Ommastrephidae

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statoliths of Cenozoic teuthoid cephalopods from North America | The Palaeontological Association". Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  2. ^ a b c John H. Wormuth (1976). "Ommastrephidae: Flying Squids". In P. Jereb; C.F.E. Roper (eds.). Cephalopods of the World: An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cephalopod species known to date . Vol. 2, Myopsid and Oegopsid Squids (PDF). Vol. 2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. pp. 9–10.
  3. ^ Muramatsu, K.; Yamamoto, J.; Abe, T.; Sekiguchi, K.; Hoshi, N.; Sakurai, Y. (May 2013). "Oceanic squid do fly". Marine Biology. 160 (5): 1171–1175. doi:10.1007/s00227-013-2169-9. S2CID 253742101.
  4. ^ Nesis, K. N. 1982. 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.
  5. ^ Glaubrecht, M. & M.A. Salcedo-Vargas 2004. The Humboldt squid Dosidicus gigas (Orbigny, 1835): History of the Berlin specimen, with a reappraisal of other (bathy-)pelagic gigantic cephalopods (Mollusca, Ommastrephidae, Architeuthidae). Zoosystematics and Evolution 80(1): 53–69. doi:10.1002/mmnz.20040800105
  6. ^ a b c John H. Wormuth (1976). The biogeography and numerical taxonomy of the oegopsid squid family Ommastrephidae in the Pacific Ocean. University of California Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-520-09540-3.
  7. ^ a b c d e Young, Richard E.; Vecchione, Michael; Roeleveld, Martina A. Compagno (2010). "Ommastrephidae Steenstrup 1857. Version 27 June 2010". The Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c K. L. Lamprell; J.M. Healy; A.M. Scheltema; K. Gowlett-Holmes; C.C. Lu (2001). Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 17.2, Mollusca: Aplacophora, Polyplacophora, Scaphopoda, Cephalopoda. CSIRO Publishing. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-643-06707-3.

External links[edit]