Octopod Teeth

PromachSpCOral-783523.jpg Many of you have probably seen this already. No doubt, you have said something like

This thing has teeth where a beak should be — disquietingly human teeth, at that.

The picture is disturbing to say the least and will haunt my dreams. So is the picture real? Yes.

The species is Promachoteuthis sulcus recently described by Young, Vecchione, and Roper. The published figure is…


What you see is the oral view of the brachial and buccal crown. The supposed teeth are papillae on the lips of the buccal mass common in cephalopods (See below).
Image from tolweb.org

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

11 comments on “Octopod Teeth
  1. “The supposed teeth are papillae on the lips of the buccal mass common in cephalopods.”
    So these “teeth” are just meaty lips and the beak is somewhere inside or maybe totally ripped from the specimen?

  2. Plover,
    You are right it is oegopsid squid and thus decapodiformes. Most early blog post across the web misidentified it as a octopus thus the title. Forgot to mention this in the post. Thanks for catching it!

  3. I’m confused. I’ve seen pictures of beaks removed from the other Promachoteuthis specimens. They look like beaks. There is no description of the beak for this specimen (P. sulcus) – they stat that “The gladius and beaks were not removed from the squid for examination.” Therefore, the beak is still there.
    I’m not seeing it.

  4. CR,
    if you find out please post! It’s bugging the heck out of me, and I don’t have a teuthologist handy to ask if they do that a lot. (The squid, not the scientists.)

Comments are closed.