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Squid are cephalopods of the two orders Myopsida and Oegopsida, which were formerly regarded as two suborders of the order Teuthida, however recent research shows Teuthida to be paraphyletic. The two current orders comprise around 304 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles.

Squid are members of the class Cephalopoda, subclass Coleoidea, the two orders, Myopsida and Oegopsida (including giant squid such as Architeuthis dux). A valid Teuthida would have been the largest cephalopod order with around 300 species classified into 29 families.

The orders Myopsida and Oegopsida are classified in the superorder Decapodiformes (from the Greek for "ten legs"). Two other orders of decapodiform cephalopods are also called squid, although they are taxonomically distinct from squids and differ recognizably in their gross anatomical features. They are the bobtail squid of order Sepiolida and the ram's horn squid of the monotypic order Spirulida. The vampire squid, however, is more closely related to the octopuses than to any squid.

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