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Summary Article: cephalopod
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Any predatory marine mollusc of the class Cephalopoda, with the mouth and head surrounded by tentacles. Cephalopods are the most intelligent, the fastest-moving, and the largest of all animals without backbones, and there are remarkable luminescent forms that swim or drift at great depths. They have the most highly developed nervous and sensory systems of all invertebrates, the eye in some closely paralleling that found in vertebrates. Examples include squid, octopus, and cuttlefish. Shells are rudimentary or absent in most cephalopods.

Typically, they move by swimming with the mantle (fold of outer skin) aided by the arms, but can squirt water out of the siphon (funnel) to propel themselves backwards by jet propulsion. Squid, for example, can escape predators at speeds of 11 kph/7mph. Cephalopods grow very rapidly and may be mature in a year. The female common octopus lays 150,000 eggs after copulation, and stays to brood them for as long as six weeks. After they hatch the female dies, and, although reproductive habits of many cephalopods are not known, it is thought that dying after spawning may be typical.

The Humboldt squid, Dosidicus gigas can grow to 3.5 m/11.5 ft in length and weigh more than 130 kg/285 lb. Little is known of the giant squid Architeuthis dux. The largest specimen caught measured 20 m/66 ft and weighed about one tonne.

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