Image of the Day: Dumbo Octopus Hatchling

The baby cephalopod looks and behaves like an adult from the moment it emerges from the egg.

Feb 21, 2018
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

A dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis) hatchlingE.K. SHEA ET AL.

Dumbo octopuses (genus Grimpoteuthis) are deep-sea denizens that lay their eggs in large capsules on the ocean floor, where their offspring develop without parental care. Researchers reported in Current Biology on Monday (February 19) that they captured the first video of a dumbo hatchling and used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze its anatomy.

In 2005, the researchers were exploring the Northwest Atlantic on a research vessel when they used a remotely operated vehicle to collect a sample of soft coral (Chrysogorgia artospira) from an undersea formation. Several egg capsules were attached to the coral, and researchers watched as one hatchling emerged from its capsule on deck. They observed and filmed the hatchling for about two hours. Dumbo octopuses, they found, are quite competent, and hatch ready to interact with their environment and capture a first meal.

“Once the fins were observed while it was still in the bucket, it was clear that it was a ‘dumbo’ octopod,” lead author Elizabeth Shea of the Delaware Museum of Natural History says in a press release. Shea and her colleagues later made a 3-D reconstruction of the hatchling’s internal anatomy using MRI, and assigned it to the genus Grimpoteuthis based on those findings.

Shea says that their finding “connects the dots” between the dumbo octopus, its eggs, and the C. artospira coral.

E.K. Shea et al., “Dumbo octopod hatchling provides insight into early cirrate life cycle,” Curr Biol, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.032, 2018.