Baby Kraken! Internet Goes Gaga Over Tiny, Deep-Sea Dumbo Octopus Hatchling

Wednesday, 21 February 2018 - 11:00AM
Weird Science
Earth
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 - 11:00AM
Baby Kraken! Internet Goes Gaga Over Tiny, Deep-Sea Dumbo Octopus Hatchling
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Image credit: screenshot/Youtube (inset) and Pixabay

It constantly surprises people that we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about our ocean floor. So much down there remains unexplored from geography to animals. One of the cutest deep-sea creatures has to be the dumbo octopus, so named for its head fins, which look like baby elephant ears. Because these octopi live deep in the ocean, scientists have never observed one hatching... Until now.

According to Liz Shea, a researcher from the Delaware Museum of Natural History:

Opening quote
"It was the first time that such a deep-sea octopus was observed directly during hatching... Witnessing the hatching upon its emergence from its egg case was a one of kind observation, a watershed moment that casts the first light on a completely unknown portion the life cycle of dumbo octopods in the deep sea."
Closing quote


Check out the video:



The little dumbo octopus' egg was collected at a depth of about 6,600 feet, attached to a coral reef branch. Upon hatching, it began exploring its small tank of seawater. Two things surprised researchers: first, that the animal behaved like a fully grown adult (which can range in size from several inches to six feet) – and second, that its body contained a large "yolk sac," which allows the little octopus to survive on stored nutrients until it's big enough to hunt on its own. In addition to observing it, researchers also created an interactive 3-D model of the octopus' internal organs, which you can see here.

Despite an extensive investigation into the baby octopus, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and its partners weren't able to determine exactly which species it is – meaning that it may actually be an undiscovered type of octopus. This wouldn't be surprising. We know so little about the ocean's depths that a student in Alaska managed to "discover" a new species of giant octopus just by looking at specimens... That fishermen had been catching for years.


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