new “dumbo” octopus discovered in the Northwest Pacific Ocean

new “dumbo” octopus discovered in the Northwest Pacific Ocean

When studying the life sciences, there are a lot of in-depth concepts to take in. Depending on the the type of science you are studying, biology vs. evolution, for example, you may even have to learn a handful of mathematical formulas to fully appreciate the material. Here, we are just having a light-hearted overview of the life sciences, so a light serving of sativa will do just fine.

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The ocean is home to a world of spectacular creatures, some so unique in their appearances that they seem to be from another planet entirely.

One of those other-worldly organisms is the “dumbo” octopus. Scientists have recently discovered a new species in this group of wacky-looking deep-sea mollusks. The newbie’s name: Grimpoteuthis imperator.


What is a Dumbo Octopus?

The “dumbo” octopuses are a group of umbrella octopus species characterized by their fins that look like the ears of the Disney character, Dumbo. They use these flappy fins to slowly propel themselves through the water, using their tentacles to steer or holding them in an “umbrella” arrangement to float. There are 15-17 types in the category.

These octopuses reside in the mysterious shadows of the ocean, between 3,000-4,000 m deep. Their benthic lifestyle requires that they live in chilling temperatures and no sunlight whatsoever. Day in and day out, they forage in the darkness, munching on invertebrates that cross their paths.

Brand-new octopus in Northwest Pacific

Using “minimally invasive” genetic analysis, MRI technology (magnetic resonance imaging, used for diagnosing medical conditions and nervous system examinations), and micro-CT scanning (used to scan internal anatomy), researchers discovered a new member of the dumbo octopus group.

This was a unique approach to the project, dissection is a more common method of researching and describing a new species. This is especially true for cephalopods, a group of marine animals, including octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses.

Collected specimens need to be deconstructed so scientists can examine the internal anatomy, primarily. They might also gather samples of muscle tissue and blood, if possible.

In this study, published in BMC Biology, the researchers’ specimen was a mature male and earned its namesake from where it was found. The team recovered the octopus from the northern portion of a mountain ridge under the sea, known as “Emperor Seamounts.” Yet, the scientists hope for a few common names to accompany its Latin title and favored “Emperor dumbo” above all.

Aquarium of the Pacific

A miraculous discovery for marine biology

This is a miraculous find, as finned octopods are quite rare, which is why the scientists chose the minimally invasive approach to study their specimen. The technique enabled the team to describe the unknown organism without damaging it, studying the following pieces of anatomy:

All these features clearly showed that the specimen was a part of the Grimpoteuthis genus. What set it apart were the number of suckers on the tentacles, gills resembling the shape of a “half-orange,” and small details of its shell.

The newly described animal adds to a small yet integral species group living in the enigmatic deepsea and further illustrates that there is so much more to be found in the depths.

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