A student working on his senior thesis has discovered the frilled giant Pacific octopus, and it was hiding in plain sight.
Scientists have just discovered a new species of octopus thanks to the hard work of a student at Alaska Pacific University who was working on his senior thesis. This new octopus, which has been named the frilled giant Pacific octopus, resembles lthe giant Pacific octopus but has some visual differences.
As a result, Nathan Hollenback decided to take some DNA samples, and he was able to successfully prove that it was a distinct species. The frilled giant Pacific octopus has two white spots at the front of its head, compared to just one for the more common cousin, and it also has a frill along its body.
So basically, while these “new” species has probably been observed many, many times before by people, everyone just assumed it was part of the other species. The octopus lives along a wide range of the northern Pacific, stretching from the U.S. coast all the way to Japan, although this new species probably has a smaller range around the Alaska area.
“We collected live octopuses as by-catch in shrimp pots fished during the Alaska Department of Fish & Game annual spot shrimp survey (Fall 2012 & 2013) and from a commercial vessel (Spring 2013) in western Prince William Sound, Alaska,” reads an intro to the paper posted by Alaska Octopus Projects. “One-third of the 21 octopuses caught as by-catch were of a previously undescribed type (below, novel morphotype). The other two-thirds of octopus by-catch were giant Pacific octopuses, Enteroctopus dofleini.”