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Grimpoteuthis Robson 1932

Richard E. Young and Michael Vecchione
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The following 14 nominal species are included in the genus.
taxon links [up-->]Grimpoteuthis challengeri [up-->]Grimpoteuthis innominata [up-->]Grimpoteuthis plena [up-->]Grimpoteuthis abyssicola [up-->]Grimpoteuthis hippocrepium [up-->]Grimpoteuthis meangensis [up-->]Grimpoteuthis boylei [up-->]Grimpoteuthis pacifica [up-->]Grimpoteuthis wuelkeri [up-->]Grimpoteuthis discoveryi [up-->]Grimpoteuthis tuftsi [up-->]Grimpoteuthis bathynectes [up-->]Grimpoteuthis umbellata [up-->]Grimpoteuthis megaptera [down<--]Opisthoteuthidae Interpreting the tree
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Containing group: Opisthoteuthidae


Most species of Grimpoteuthis are poorly known. They are somewhat less compressed in the anterior-posterior axis than are members of Opisthoteuthis and they generally have relatively larger fins. Species are closely associated with the deep-ocean floor and some species, at least, alternate between sitting on the ocean bottom and swimming above it while some others apear to be completely pelagic.

Brief diagnosis:

An opisthoteuthid ...

Full diagnosis of the genus (from Collins and Villanueva, 2006):

 "Small-to-large grimpoteuthids with medium-to-large lateral fins, each with a distinct lobe near the anterior fin insertion. Shell vestige U-shaped; lateral sides parallel, not tapered to fine points. Radula monodont or absent. Posterior salivary glands small or absent. Web supported by single fleshy nodules on the ventral side of the arms. Digestive gland entire (single lobe). Sucker sexual dimorphism present in some species, but with single enlarged field."*

* Refers a diagnosis of the genus within their family Grimpoteuthidae which also includes the genera Cryptoteuthis and Luteuthis. They diagnose Grimpoteuthidae as follows, "Medium-to-large sized, bell-shaped cirrates with lateral fins. Web deep and simple. Shell U-shaped, with lateral walls parallel. Optic nerve passes though white body in single bundle. Radula reduced or absent. Posterior salivary glands reduced or absent. Cirri of short to moderate length. Gills of ‘half-orange’ form."


  1. Arms and web
    1. Suckers in males not greatly enlarged, not in two fields.
    2. Sucker aperatures without tooth-like structures (see Luteuthis for tooth-like structures).
    3. Cirrus length comparable to 2.5 times largest sucker diameter.
    4. Single web nodules present (arrow).
    5. 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 arm of Grimpoteuthis bathynectes showing single web nodule. Drawing modified from Voss and Pearcy, 1990.

  2. Head
    1. Eyes: Large, diameter typically 1/3 of head width.
    2. Beaks: Descriptions of some species can be found here: Lower beak; upper beak.

  3. Pigmentation
    1. No areolar spots

  4. Fins
    1. Length approximately equals mantle width.

  5. Gills
    1. Semi-sepioid (in G. innominata) or half-orange appearance.

  6. Digestive system
    1. Intestine approximately equal to esophagus (including crop) in length.
    2. Digestive tract arranged in simple U-shape.
    3. Digestive gland unilobular.
    4. Radula present or absent.
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      Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

      Figure. Side view of digestive tract of Grimpoteuthis bathynectes (?). Drawing modified from Voss and Pearcy, 1990.

  7. Optic lobe and optic nerve bundles
    1. Optic lobe circular (rather than kidney-shaped) in cross-section.
    2. Single nerve bundle from optic lobe penetrates white body.
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      Click on an image to view larger version & data in a new window

      Figure. Optic lobe, optic nerve bundles and white body of Grimpoteuthis abyssicola. Drawing from O'Shea, 1999.

  8. Shell
    1. U-shaped, lateral walls of wings usually parallel to one another. Mid-saddle often with outer and inner surfaces convex but outer surface flat or concave in some species (eg, G. meangensis).
    2. Shoulders with or without shoulder blades.
    3. 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. Dorsal view of shell of Grimpoteuthis bathynectes. Drawing modified from Voss and Pearcy, 1990.


The male reproductive tract shows considerable variation between species and is frequently described for new species. However the amount of variation within a species is unknown and therefore the specific value of the structures of the tract is uncertain. In addition there is some confusion regarding the identification of the various parts. Ebersbach (1915) made a careful dissection of the digestive tract of a Grimpoteuthis that he believed was G. umbellata. His illustration, relabeled, is shown on the right. The proximal glands on the sperm duct are often called "seminal vesicles." However, as Ebersbach pointed out, they are spermatophore-forming glands and should be called "spermatophore glands." A small gland (labeled "?") lies between the spermatophore and accessory glands that Ebersbach called the accessory spermatophore gland but may be Needham's sac.

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Figure. Male reproductive tract of Grimpoteuthis umbellata. Figure relabeled from Ebersbach (1915).

Species comparisons

Species No. arm suckers Sucker
no. at
Arm I
Male, female
Salivary glands Gill lamellae Eye size Shell
Shell saddle shape: Outer surface Ocean
G. abyssicola 77 32-34 4-6 2.5x None 8 Large No Yes Convex South Pacific
G. bathynectes 47-58 26 3-4 1.1x, 1.3x Posterior 7-9 Large No No Convex? North Pacific
G. boylei
55-58 31 4-7 1.9x, 2.2x Ant., Post. 7-8 1/3 HW Weak No Depressed North Atlantic
G. challengeri 63-72 34 4-7 2.5x, 3.5x Anterior 7-8 1/3 HW Yes No Convex North Atlantic
G. discoveryi
56-61 31 3-5 1.2x, 1.6x Anterior 6-8 1/3 HW Weak No Convex North Atlantic
G. hippocrepium 50, 25 4-5 ? ? ? ? No No Flat? E. tropical Pacific
G. innominata 50-60 22-24 4-6 1x None 7 large Yes Yes Median ridge South Pacific
G. meangensis 60-70 ? 4-7 ? ? ? ? Yes ? Flat W. tropical Pacific
G. megaptera ? ? ? 2x ? ? 1/3 HW ? ? ? North Atlantic
G. pacifica 52 ? 6-8 2x ? ? Large ? ? ? W. tropical Pacific
G. plena 55 ? ? 1.2-1.6 ? ? small ? ? ? North Atlantic
G. tuftsi 63-75 ? 5-7 1.5-3.5 None 7-8 Large Yes No? Transverse groove North Pacific
G. umbellata 65-68 ? 4-5 1.2x ? 8 ? ? ? ? North Atlantic
G. wuelkeri 60-70 28 4-7 2.5x, 1.2x Ant., post. 6-7 1/3 HW Yes No Convex with ridge North Atlantic


Robson (1932) erected the genus Grimpoteuthis to include some species formely placed in Cirroteuthis. He designated G. umbellata (Fischer, 1883) as the type species.


Very little is known about the habits and behavior of species of Grimpoteuthis. These photographs taken off Hawaii show an unknown species of Grimpoteuthis sitting on the ocean floor (right) and the same individual swimming with its fins just above the ocean floor (left). Some species, perhaps that in the title photograph, are very delicate and unlike the species seen on the right, may be entire benthopelagic.

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Figure. Grimpoteuthis sp. from Hawaiian waters. Photographs modified from Young, et al., 1998.

Below are higher resolution images of a Grimmpoteuthis sp. from the Gulf of Mexico at about 2150 m showing a sequence from sitting on the bottom to swimming. Note the peculiar manner in which the arms are rolled up in the third image.
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Figure. Three views of the same Grimpoteuthis sp. Left - Starting to move from sitting on the ocean floor. Middle - Lifting off the bottom and beginning to swim. Right - Swimming well off the bottom. Images from NOAA's Ocean Exploration program; frame grabs from video recorded by ROV operated from R/V OKEANOS EXPLORER.


Species appear to be associated with the deep ocean floor in all oceans of the world.


Species of Grimpoteuthis, as with many other species of cirrates undergo great shrinkage with fixation and preservation. The cirrate on the left, identified as G. wuelkeri by Uwe Piatkowski, was photographed directly after its capture. The photograph of the same specimen, on the right, was taken after two years in ethanol. While the relative sizes of the two have not been maintained here, note that the eyes and fins appear relatively larger after preservation.

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Figure. G. wuelkeri before and after preservation. Photographs provided by U. Piatkowski.


Collins, M. A. In press. The genus Grimpoteuthis (Octopoda: Grimpoteuthidae) in the North-east Atlantic, with descriptions of three new species.

Ebersbach, A. 1915. Zur Anatomie von Cirroteuhtis umbellata Fischer und Stauroteuthis sp. Z. Wiss. Zool., 113:361-483.

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

Robson, G. C. (1932). A monograph of the Recent Cephalopoda. Part II. The Octopoda (excluding the Octopodinae). Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.), London.

Villanueva, R. 1992. Continuous spawning in the cirrate octopods Opisthoteuthis agassizii and O. vossi: features of sexual maturation defining a reproductive strategy in cephalopods. Marine Biology, 114:265-275.

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

Young, R. E., M. Vecchione and D. Donovan. 1998. The evolution of coleoid cephalopods and their present biodiversity and ecology. South African Jour. Mar. Sci.., 20: 393-420.

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Grimpoteuthis sp.
Location Antarctic waters
Creator E. McSweeny
Copyright © E. McSweeny
Scientific Name Grimpoteuthis sp.
Location Central North Atlantic
Comments Photographed on R/V G. O. Sars, MARECO cruise.
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
View Ventral
Copyright ©
About This Page

University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA

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

Page: Tree of Life Grimpoteuthis Robson 1932. Authored by Richard E. Young and Michael Vecchione. 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:

Young, Richard E. and Michael Vecchione. 2016. Grimpoteuthis Robson 1932. Version 27 February 2016 (under construction). http://tolweb.org/Grimpoteuthis/20104/2016.02.27 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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