What’s the difference between a squid and an octopus?
A typical squid has:
- a streamlined body
- a clear internal shell known as a gladius or pen
- a head
- a mantle (which fits like a hat over the main part of the body)
- eight arms
- two tentacles with hooks, or sucker rings, or both
- two fins
A typical octopus has:
- a round, bulbous body
- no internal shell
- a head
- a mantle
- eight arms with suckers (never hooks)
- no tentacles and no fins
Colossal squid, giant squid, and giant Pacific octopus
Colossal squid vs giant squid
Colossal squid Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni are slightly shorter than giant squid Architeuthis dux, but have a larger, heavier body.
Te Papa’s colossal squid tips the scales at a massive 490 kg. In contrast, giant squid weigh up to about 275 kg.
All squid have sharp horny beaks made of material similar to human fingernails. The colossal squid has the largest beak of any squid, including the giant squid.
The tips of the colossal squid’s tentacles (the clubs) are armed with two unusual rows of sharp, swivelling hooks, and two rows of tiny suckers.
Other squid species also have tentacle hooks. The beak and the hooks are lethal weapons for catching and holding large fish like the toothfish.