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A new species of giant octopus has been discovered!

It turns out that the giant octopus, well known to many, is actually two different species. Scientists are now certain of what has been assumed for some time. However, for many decades, this magnificent cephalopod, which inhabits waters from Alaska to California and up to Japan, hid right under their noses and was mistakenly taken
Published: January 7, 2018 - 17:32
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:17
A new species of giant octopus has been discovered!

It turns out that the giant octopus, well known to many, is actually two different species. Scientists are now certain of what has been assumed for some time. However, for many decades, this magnificent cephalopod, which inhabits waters from Alaska to California and up to Japan, hid right under their noses and was mistakenly taken for a representative of Enteroctopus dofleini.

As the popular saying goes, ‘It isdarkest under the lamp’, and this probably perfectly reflects the situation surrounding the discovery of a new species of octopus. Although it had been suspected for some time that there might be several species under the name of giant octopus, it is only now that scientists have become certain.

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IMG_7685-Clade-II-M-20130428-c-D-Scheel-W700-H467

In 2012, a group of researchers from Alaska Pacific University and the US Geological Survey, encountered a group of giant octopuses that were genetically different from the others. Unfortunately, after sampling, the animals were not photographed before release, so it was not possible to determine whether the difference was only genetic or whether the individuals were also visually different.

Nathan Hollenbeck, a student at Alaska Pacific University, decided to investigate, turning the animals he studied into the subject of his thesis. It quickly became clear that two different species of octopus could be distinguished just by looking at them. Their representatives are quite distinct.

frilled-giant-pacific-octopus-frill

The giant octopus and its known characteristics, differed from what could be observed in the other species. This one, in contrast to the species already known and described in 1910, has a frill running through the whole body, strange cilia and two white spots on the front of the head, where the giant octopus has only one such spot.

Big-Kid-D-Scheel-E-dofleini-2005P6251837-crop-W700

So invasive (tiny fragments of arms) and non-invasive (using cotton swabs) samples were taken. In fact, this was the first time that an octopus DNA sample had been collected using a non-invasive method. By testing the collected genetic material, two things were confirmed: we are dealing with two different species of octopus and the non-invasive DNA sampling can successfully replace the previous method. The results of this research are presented in the American Malacological Bulletin.

Voices coming from the scientific community, following the confirmation of this discovery, suggest that we may soon witness the isolation of further species, hitherto hiding under the common species name Enteroctopus dofleini.

Source: news.mongabay.com, sciencealert.com, earther.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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