Mantle cylindrical, in juveniles and adults covered by flat polygonal papillae or scales, usually not contacting one another, bearing cartilaginous denticulations on angles, which resemble papillae of sea stars. In adults denticulations usually broken off and papillae arranged in oblique rows so that skin becomes cobble-road-like. Fin diamond-shaped, reaching mantle end. Fin length 35-45%, width 50-70% ML. Arms with 2 rows of dentate suckers; maximal arm length in adults 30-60% ML. Tentacles long, club almost not widened, with 4 rows of suckers, round in larvae and juveniles (ML <20-25 mm), elongate and compressed from sides in late juveniles and adults. Acute teeth located on lateral sides of chitinous lining of slit-like opening of sucker ring. Buccal membrane with 7 lappets, connectives to 4th arms attached ventrally. Funnel cartilage simple, straight. Gladius with narrow lateral vane, constricted in posterior third, and short needle-like rostrum on the tip of conus. Photophores unreported. ML up to 60 cm.
The other South Atlantic species, Pholidoteuthis adami G.Voss, 1956 (= Pholidoteuthis uruguayensis Leta, 1987), is bathyal, with heart-shaped fin (length 65-75% ML), and long arms (maximum length 65-75% ML). ML up to 78 cm. Juvenile stages undescribed. Status of N Atlantic Pholidoteuthis massyae (Pfeffer, 1912), based on juveniles, is unclear but it may be a form of Pholidoteuthis boschmai.