Whenever I see an article announcing a new species, it’s usually about some bacteria or slug. Not that they don’t deserve a spot in the ecosystem, but well, slugs are not exciting.
Octopuses definitely are! Not only are they smart, they are masters of disguise. Their cool appearance and unique behavior make them legendary and loved.
Listen to the audio version here
NEW SPECIES ALERT : OCTOPUS!
My enticing build-up is leading to the fact that there’s a new species of octopus!
This adorable animal has flippers coming out the sides of its head! (the photo above was taken several years ago, but there is red tape involved when officially adding a new species.)
Scientists even named this octopus ‘Dumbo’ after the Disney character, Dumbo the elephant, who used his ears to fly. (I never saw this movie…did you?)
Let’s not confuse cute elephants with cute octopuses.
Of course, that would never happen, even though both species are highly intelligent! And adorable.
Not to mention that elephants are classified as mammalia and octopuses are cephalopods.
CEPHALOPODS...what the heck are they?
Octopuses (Yes this is the correct plural term…I looked it up!) are cephalopods, a small group of highly advanced animals (In Latin, Cephalopoda, means “head foot.”) to include eight-armed octopuses, ten-armed squids and cuttlefishes, and shelled chambered nautiluses.
Cephalopods are always found in oceans, never lakes. (It’s great to find a concrete rule!) They were once one of the dominant life forms in the world’s oceans. Today there are only about 800 living species of cephalopods. (compare that with 32,000 living species of bony fish and 10,000 species of birds)
DUMBO THE OCTOPUS
With only 800 species of octopus, it’s pretty exciting to find a new one! The new species is technically a Grimpoteuthis, which is a member of the umbrella family, called Opisthoteuthidae.
This family of octopus still has eight arms, like all octopuses. The difference is the webbing between their arms, resembling an umbrella. (I’m not going to take a picture of an umbrella. Umbrellas aren’t cute)
Dumbo octopuses are all found near the bottoms of deep oceans. Perhaps this is an adaption to help the octopus crawl along the seafloor.
Webbing is useful for all octopuses to encase their prey, to keep it from escaping.
Dumbo octopus below, sideways view so the telltale flaps aren’t quite as noticeable.
Dumbo octopuses are 14 to 17 inches long.
They’ve been captured on film ‘hopping’ from place to place on the seabed.
Not everything is scary in the ocean depths!
OCTOPUSES ARE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
The octopus is considered the most intelligent of all invertebrates. They have the largest brain and are the only invertebrate to use tools. (This is a marker for intelligence, also exhibited by elephants, crows, and dolphins)
I am excited to report that I have an article in the October 202o issue of Faces magazine about crows and ravens!
An octopus named Otto was known to throw rocks and spray water at the bright overhead lights of his aquarium in order to short them out. He even cracked the glass in his tank!
In 2016, another octopus named Inky escaped from his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand.
Inky, the size of a basketball, managed to squeeze into a gap in its tank, slide across the floor and down a 164-foot-long drainpipe to the ocean.
Inky is still at large today.
His ex-tank mate Blotchy, isn’t talking.
Octopuses are not only great escape artists, but are also curious, can develop unique personalities, and have been known to recognize individual faces.
Here’s a video of an octopus escaping from a sealed jar!
And another video of an octopus named Rambo, taking photographs of her visitors!
Who needs an invisibility cloak? (more on the magic of invisibility here)
Because octopuses live under intense predation pressure, they’ve evolved an effective and impressive camouflaging ability! They put chameleons to shame.
THREE TYPES OF SPECIALIZED CELLS
The cells are muscle-controlled, expanding and contracting on command to help the animal blend in with its surroundings, or to communicate with other animals. The topmost cells are called chromatophores. They are dye- filled sacs with red, yellow brown or black colored ink.
The middle layer of cells are called iridophores. They create an array of glittering blues, greens, and golds. These cells don’t open and close but the octopus can change the angel of each cell to reflect light like a tiny mirror.
At the deepest skin layer are cells called leucophores. They can create a white shine.
Here’s the strange fact ; Octopuses are color-blind!
The octopus can also spray a cloud of black into obscure itself from an attacker. The ink even dulls the predator’s sense of smell, making the octopus more difficult to track. (Sharks, eels, and dolphins love to eat them)
Fun video below, even with the typo. We all make mistakes.
If necessary, they can sacrifice an arm and regrow it later. They also have venomous saliva, used more to subdue prey than as defense.
The fact that Inky the Octopus chose liberty and danger from sharks, eels, and dolphins over safety and hand feeding of his favorite foods at a national aquarium, made me boycott eating octopuses for dinner!
There’s even a World Octopus Day! (October 8th.) You could accuse me of poorly timing this post, but I can’t help when the new species are announced.
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