The family includes the largest of all cephalopods. Specimens occasionally are found moribund at the surface of the ocean, but most records are from strandings or whale stomachs. Apparently world-wide in distribution. Many species have been named in the sole genus of the family, Architeuthis, but they are so inadequately described and poorly understood that the systematics of the group is thoroughly confused. Total lengths of nearly 20 m and mantle lengths of nearly 6 m (not a complete specimen) have been recorded. Juveniles of species have been reported from both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Architeuthidae is characterised by a tetraserial armature on the tentacular clubs with large suckers in the medial rows of the manus and small suckers in the marginal rows; a distinct cluster of numerous small suckers and knobs at the proximal end of the manus; two longitudinal rows of alternating suckers and pads on the tentacular stalks; a straight simple funnel locking-cartilage; buccal connectives that attach to the dorsal border of arms IV; absence of photophores.