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 (1714 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

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.)

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