Gladius (cephalopod)

Gladius, showing measurement of rachis and vane
Paralarval chiroteuthids (such as the Chiroteuthis veranyi pictured) are unusual in that they possess a greatly elongated gladius extending well beyond the fins; this supports a long, trailing tail-like structure.
Fossilised gladius of Teudopsis
Fossilised gladius of Trachyteuthis

The gladius (plural: gladii), or pen, is a hard internal bodypart found in many cephalopods of the superorder Decapodiformes (particularly squids) and in a single extant member of the Octopodiformes, the vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis).[1] It is so named for its superficial resemblance to the Roman short sword of the same name, and is a vestige of the ancestral mollusc shell, which was external.[1] The gladius is located dorsally within the mantle and usually extends for its entire length. Composed primarily of chitin, it lies within the shell sac, which is responsible for its secretion.[1][2]

Gladii are known from a number of extinct cephalopod groups, including teudopseids (e.g. Actinosepia, Glyphiteuthis, Muensterella, Palaeololigo, Teudopsinia, Teudopsis, and Trachyteuthis), loligosepiids (e.g. Geopeltis, Jeletzkyteuthis, and Loligosepia), and prototeuthids (e.g. Dorateuthis, Paraplesioteuthis, and Plesioteuthis).[3][4]


Gladii are shaped in many distinctive ways and vary considerably between species, though are often like a feather or leaf. Some examples are shown below.

Shape of gladius Species Family
Ancistroteuthis lichtensteini Onychoteuthidae
Architeuthis sp. Architeuthidae
Bathyteuthis abyssicola Bathyteuthidae
Histioteuthis bonnellii Histioteuthidae
Histioteuthis reversa Histioteuthidae
Illex illecebrosus Ommastrephidae
Lepidoteuthis grimaldii Lepidoteuthidae
Loligo pealeii Loliginidae
Loliolus sumatrensis Loliginidae
Lolliguncula brevis Loliginidae
Mastigoteuthis agassizii Mastigoteuthidae
Onykia ingens Onychoteuthidae
Pholidoteuthis massyae Pholidoteuthidae
Sepioteuthis lessoniana Loliginidae
Taningia danae Octopoteuthidae
Taonius borealis Cranchiidae
Teuthowenia megalops Cranchiidae
Uroteuthis duvauceli Loliginidae

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gladius.


  1. 1 2 3 Young, R.E., M. Vecchione & K.M. Mangold (1999). Cephalopod Gladius Terminology. Tree of Life Web Project.
  2. Hunt, S.; Nixon, M. (1981). "A comparative study of protein composition in the chitin-protein complexes of the beak, pen, sucker disc, radula and oesophageal cuticle of cephalopods". Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology B. 68 (4): 535–546. doi:10.1016/0305-0491(81)90071-7.
  3. Fuchs, D.; Engeser, T.; Keupp, H. (2007). "Gladius shape variation in coleoid cephalopod Trachyteuthis from the Upper Jurassic Nusplingen and Solnhofen Plattenkalks" (PDF). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 52 (3): 575–589.
  4. Fuchs, D. (2010). Teudopseina. Tree of Life Web Project.

Further reading

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 6/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.