Body cylindrical, rounded behind. Head wider than mantle, eyes directed somewhat anteriorly. Fins in both larvae and adults small, kidney-shaped, located near mantle end, not joined. Arms short, conical, not tapering, joined by web near bases, 4th pair in adults longer and wider than others. Suckers small, on 1st-3rd arms in 2 rows proximally, 4 distally, on 4th arms in 1-2 rows. Protective membranes of arms well developed, thick, with entire margin, without finger-like lappets. Tentacles long, thin, retractable, club not widened, without fixing apparatus, with very small suckers in 6-8 rows. Buccal membrane with 7 lappets, with 1-2 minute suckers on lappets, connectives to 4th arms attached dorsally. Funnel cartilage straight, elongate. Gladius with thin rachis and oval vane, without end conus.
Photophores visible only in late larvae and juveniles (on basal parts of 1st to 3rd arms), obscure in adults. Color uniformly deep-maroon, tentacles whitish. Position in life vertical, head down. Larvae and juveniles adult-like, but with protruding eyes, also deep-maroon, arm photophores developing at ML approx. 5-6 mm. ML up to 75 mm.
One species in the Atlantic. A widely distributed species, circumglobal in Antarctic and polar-subpolar zones; absent in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, as well as the equatorial and central zones of the Western Atlantic.