New Species Alert : Octopus!


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! All types of octopus are smart! Plus, they are masters of disguise. Their cool appearance and unique behavior make the octopus legendary and loved.

sour patch gummy worm...not a slug
Not a slug because no one would eat a slug unless they were starving. Many would eat a gummy worm.
Octopus drawing missing four legs
Octopuses are loved, shown here by kids with developing math skills and art talent. This octopus only has only four arms, drawn by Ian, although Alex likes to claim credit.


Dumbo octopus
Credit: NOAA OKEANOS EXPLORER Program, Gulf of Mexico 2014 Expedition

My enticing build-up is leading to the fact that there’s a new species of octopus! 

This new type of octopus 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 new type of 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. 

Trunk Hugs Elephants
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee I wrote an article about this fantastic organization for Highlights
Fins of dumbo octopus
courtesy Jesus Caceras

CEPHALOPODS...what the heck are they? OCTOPUS FACTS

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.

Previous slide
Next slide

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)



With only 800 species or types of octopus, it’s pretty exciting to find a new type of octopus! 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 types of 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)

The Dumbo octopus are all found near the bottoms of deep oceans. Perhaps this is an adaptation to help this type of octopus crawl along the seafloor. 

Webbing is useful for all types of octopus to encase their prey, to keep it from escaping.

Dumbo octopus below, sideways view so the telltale flaps aren’t quite as noticeable.

Dumbo Octopus
NOAA OKEANOS EXPLORER Program, Oceano Profundo 2015; Exploring Puerto Rico's Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs

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!

Dumbo octopus with ray and shrimp
Alan Jamiseon & Michale Vecchione Creative Commons licence
Dumbo octopus fins
FeMO Microbial Observatory

They have been sighted off the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, California, Oregon, Philippines, New Guinea, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. (MA feels like an outlier to me)


See map (on right) with arrow designating some sightings.

Java Trench on ocean map
Latest sighting was in the Java Trench, 6900 meters deep. (Above for world map) Yellow dots on right for precise sighting locations
Graph of location sighting octopus
Jamieson, A.J., Vecchione, M. First in situ observation of Cephalopoda at hadal depths (Octopoda: Opisthoteuthidae: Grimpoteuthis sp.). Mar Biol 167, 82 (2020)


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 type of 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.

Inky the Octopus

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!

Do octopuses have red blood?

Obviously not, since I'm asking....


To survive in the deep ocean—where the water temperature is very low and not much oxygen is around—octopuses evolved a copper rather than an iron-based blood. The copper is more efficient at transporting oxygen under these conditions. Copper makes fireworks blue, too!
More about the colors of fireworks here!


Who needs an invisibility cloak? (more on the magic of invisibility here)

Because all types of octopus live under intense predation pressure, they’ve evolved an effective and impressive camouflaging ability! They put chameleons to shame.

Special pigment cells in octopus skin give octopuses the power to change color, pattern and even textures on command, to match their surroundings. They can hide in plain sight!


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. 


Yes or no?


It seems counterintuitive, but the colors aren't to attract mates so much as for camouflage. They don't need to impress each other!

Here’s the strange fact ; Octopuses are color-blind!

Most types of 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, all types of octopus can sacrifice an arm and regrow it later. They also have venomous saliva, used more to subdue prey than as defense. 

Are all octopuses venomous?


All types of octopus are venomous. Only one species, the blue-ringed octopus, found in the waters of Japan and Australia, has sufficient venom to be dangerous to man.

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.

Have you ever eaten octopus?

Or here’s a better question, will you still eat octopuses after reading my post?

There is a correct answer here!

One guess as to what your answer should be!
Don't eat the Dumbos!
Dumbo octopus
Too cute to eat.


Less intelligent seafood options!

Please use a share button below and spread the word about this cool new type of octopus!

I’d be giddy if you’d subscribe!

Thanks for stopping by.




Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
June 8, 2020 2:31 pm

Great !! Very informative!! Love the insert of Louie!!

Retirestyle Travel
Retirestyle Travel
June 8, 2020 3:44 pm

Great educational information about octopuses in general. It is so cool that they discovered a new species.

Jane Herrmann
Jane Herrmann
June 8, 2020 4:35 pm

Love this! I just finished reading a great sci-fi book about sentient octopi, Children of Ruin–it’s a sequel to Children of Time, which featured sentient spiders. Both were excellent and did a great job of imagining how they would think and act.

Luke Slater
June 8, 2020 5:10 pm

You’ve got so much information, I think this is fantastic from an education point of view, this could help many children in the years to come 😁

June 8, 2020 5:20 pm

Excellent post, Sue. I especially liked the stories about naughty Otto who evidently understood electrical circuits better than me and Inky, who could have been named Houdini. 🙂

Eva Apelqvist
Eva Apelqvist
June 8, 2020 5:33 pm

This is one of the best yet. Looove octupuses and you went well beyond the superficial. Nice. Besides, you really had me hooked with the intro.

June 9, 2020 6:39 am

Wow! It is really cool to hear that they are still discovering new species. The world is a beautiful place. And I love the name Dumbo for this octopus. So fitting.

Love, Em
June 9, 2020 6:43 am

I love how educational all your posts are and how much time & research goes into each one! Thank you for sharing this blog post. I think it is crazy that we’re still discovering new species, even in today’s modern society. Just makes you think what else is in the deep dark depths of the ocean!

Em x

June 9, 2020 7:00 am

This is such a cool post, I’ve never read anything like it! I love visiting marine wildlife centres and aquariums with my boyfriend and we learn so much while we’re there!

🌿 Marissa Belle | x 🌿

June 9, 2020 7:08 am

Oh wow! This is so cool! I did not know that a new species of octopus has been discovered! Thanks for sharing all the info about it! I’m always fascinated by sea life!

Unwanted Life
June 9, 2020 7:32 am

I remember when the announced the discovery of the “Dumbo” octopus. I also saw it in a wildlife documentary recently

June 9, 2020 7:54 am

Great way to start today reading about a new species. Your posts are always amazing and this one was truly superb. I would still be afraid to see one in the wild if I was swimming. Louie is cute as always. Keep up the great work. Mike

L Wall
June 9, 2020 8:46 am

A very cool post, really informative! Such a cute octopus!

June 9, 2020 9:03 am

Inky is still at large today.

His ex-tank mate Blotchy, isn’t talking. – Still laughing 🙂 You do a great job mixing humor and science!

Natasha Evans
June 9, 2020 12:44 pm

Ooh this was such an interesting post, I’ve definitely learnt something new!

Tash –

June 9, 2020 5:33 pm

They are so fascinating! I love hearing about new creatures, There’s so much we still don’t know about the world.

Lisa's Notebook
June 10, 2020 4:28 am

This is soooooo exciting, I showed my wannabe marine biologist daughter your post and she LOVED it too. Octopuses are amazing creatures, aren’t they? Probably my favourite sea creature, after sea horses. Loved this post Sue, thank you so much for sharing 🙂 Lisa

June 10, 2020 6:27 am

This is fascinating, you blog post is really good!

June 10, 2020 6:29 am

An octopus called Dumbo, how cute!

Diffusing the Tension
Diffusing the Tension
June 10, 2020 11:13 am

Aww I love its ears! It’s almost cute. And yes, I’ve eaten octopus. It was delicious!

June 10, 2020 1:02 pm

I love your post. It so educational, I didn’t know about dumbo and I am so glad I came across your post. Thank you for sharing.
Darina from

Josie D.
Josie D.
June 10, 2020 2:23 pm

Whoa! Who knew octopuses were such interesting creatures. The dumbo octopus is so cute but it’s too big for me to have it as a pet sadly lol.

June 10, 2020 2:52 pm

This is actually such an exciting post. I never really found octopus cute until now, so interesting too! Thanks for sharing.


Jenny in Neverland
June 11, 2020 4:02 am

Ah I didn’t know this! How exciting that a new species was found – he is kinda cute!

Emily Clare Skinner
June 11, 2020 5:59 am

Ooooh Dumbo is the cutest name!!

Carolyn Holton
Carolyn Holton
June 12, 2020 9:13 am

This is so cool! But no, I don’t want to eat one….Thanks for sharing this !

June 12, 2020 9:59 am

Octopuses are such fascinating creatures, I’d no seen much about the “umbrella” ones before, thanks for sharing.

Ps. Yes I have seen Dumbo 😂

Blog of Sunshine
June 13, 2020 5:22 am

This is such a cool blog post! I absolutely love reading your blog, I always discover something new and I find it so inspiring… thank you so much for writing!

June 13, 2020 5:13 pm

Wow, I really enjoyed reading this. Great information, the YouTube videos in the post are so helpful, learnt so much about Octopus. I was just WOW throughout the post. Thank you for sharing

Fadima Mooneira
June 14, 2020 1:49 am

Wow!!!!!! Lovely sea creatures. Thank you for sharing a lot of facts on octopuses. I think I will visit this blog again the next time. Keep on posting this kinda post ya. Tq.

June 14, 2020 12:24 pm

Wow! So informative! And how cute is the Dumbo Octopus! I really enjoyed all the information you shared. Thank you 🙂

Em and Jess
Em and Jess
June 22, 2020 2:10 pm

This was really interesting, and I never knew there were so many species or so much to learn about octopi

June 22, 2020 3:22 pm

Oh wow, this is so exciting! I had no idea about this, so thank you for educating me on the matter. I didn’t know there were so many species xx

Hannah |

Smith Mitchell
July 23, 2020 11:44 am

Thank you, it was very interesting.

Shewen Bian
Shewen Bian
June 2, 2022 6:46 am

Hi Susan, really interesting article. I have a question about octopus my daughter found recently while we were night fishing for squids on a private pier in Montauk New York. The unique feature about this little octopus was it had the large fins on it mantle like the deep sea dumbo octopus that I’m familiar with. We took video and photo of the octopus before releasing it but I can’t find any information about this type of octopus anywhere on the internet. I’m hoping you can help to direct us to someone that may. Please advise if you able to help so we can exchange contact information. Appreciated and thank you in advance.


Susan Berk Koch author

My New Book!

Be the best-informed reader!

Make Sense of Science is my email newsletter where I share information about future science, new tech developments, as well as tools and resources for STEM at home. It arrives every two weeks and you’ll only hear from me. (And Louie)


Be the smartest person on your block!

Enter your email & I’ll share news about future science, STEM activities, and the best books.

And more Louie!

Louie says please subscribe to our science blog

Be the Best Informed!

I’ll make sense of science, share news about new tech, science advancements, and more. You’ll only hear from me and only twice a month. 

Louie loves STEM at home activities

Be the smartest person!

I’ll share news about future science, new species, show you how to do science at home with your kids, find the best books and more. You’ll only hear from me and only twice a month, tops.

Louie will be so happy!

Don’t miss out on More Cool Science! Subscribe for twice monthly articles. Thanks so much.