The cephalopods are a class of molluscs. Members include octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, nautiluses and the fossil ammonites. They are characterised by a ring of tentacles around their mouth, and swim using a form of jet propulsion by squirting water out of their body. All cephalopods are carnivorous.
Scientific name: Cephalopoda
A recently discovered octopus and a bioluminescent vampire of the deep.
The unique behaviour of the dumbo octopus was captured with the help of MBARI's underwater marine researchers and innovative film technology, developed with NHK in Japan. Even standard HD cameras can't operate in such low light conditions, but the New Super-HARP (High-gain Avalanche Rushing amorphous Photoconductor) equipment is ultra sensitive and particularly effective with slow-moving images.
Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.
A cephalopod is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda (Greek plural κεφαλόποδα (kephalópoda); "head-feet"). These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles (muscular hydrostats) modified from the primitive molluscan foot. Fishermen sometimes call them inkfish, referring to their common ability to squirt ink. The study of cephalopods is a branch of malacology known as teuthology.
Cephalopods became dominant during the Ordovician period, represented by primitive nautiloids. The class now contains two, only distantly related, extant subclasses: Coleoidea, which includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautiloidea, represented by Nautilus and Allonautilus. In the Coleoidea, the molluscan shell has been internalized or is absent, whereas in the Nautiloidea, the external shell remains. About 800 living species of cephalopods have been identified. Two important extinct taxa are the Ammonoidea (ammonites) and Belemnoidea (belemnites).
Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.
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