A new species of octopus has been confirmed through DNA analysis due to the hard work of a university student.
A brand new species of octopus has just been confirmed, and as it turns out, this species was hiding under our noses the whole time deep in the Pacific Ocean. A student at Alaska Pacific University, Nathan Hollenback, had noticed a variation in appearance of the common giant Pacific octopus and decided to investigate further as part of his senior thesis project.
The octopus he wanted to take a closer look at certainly appeared to be a common giant Pacific octopus, but it had key differences, like two white spots at the front of its head rather than one, and a frill running the length of its body. DNA samples later confirmed his suspicions that this was a distinct species, and not simply a variation of the more common octopus.
The new octopus has been named the frilled giant Pacific octopus, after its distinguishing feature. While its more common cousin lives along a wide swath of ocean stretching from Japan to the western United States, Hollenback believes this species is probably contained to smaller area near Alaska and the Bering Sea.
“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, as 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.
“Novel Morphotype – the new octopus: Novel morphotype octopuses (see image, below left) were identified by an absence of longitudinal mantle folds, the presence of a lateral mantle frill comprised of a semi-continuous line of broad merged papillae forming a frill or flap along the mid-lateral mantle, the absence of papillae or rugose texture on the ventral mantle below the frill, and two distinctly seperated frontal white spots (rather than a single simple or compound spot, or none). See images below left and frontal white spots below to the right, bottom image of three.”