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Recent ecological theory depends, for predictive power, on the apparent similarity of metabolic rates within broad taxonomic or functional groups of organisms (e.g. invertebrates or ectotherms). Such metabolic commonality is challenged here, as I demonstrate more than 200-fold variation in metabolic rates independent of body mass and temperature in a single class of animals, the Cephalopoda, over seven orders of magnitude size range. I further demonstrate wide variation in the slopes of metabolic scaling curves. The observed variation in metabolism reflects differential selection among species for locomotory capacity rather than mass or temperature constraints. Such selection is highest among epipelagic squids (Lolignidae and Ommastrephidae) that, as adults, have temperature-corrected metabolic rates higher than mammals of similar size.