According to recent research by an undergraduate student at Alaska Pacific University, the giant Pacific octopus, which was only recently determined to be two genetically separate species, is also morphologically different. The giant Pacific octopus is a commonly found cephalopod in the waters around Japan and Alaska and down to California—but until recently no one seemed to notice there was, in fact, two species.
The discovery was made by student Nathan Hollenbeck while working on his senior thesis, but the discovery was not a complete surprise. Researchers from the US Geological Survey and Alaska Pacific University found a genetically distinct group of octopuses in Prince William Sound in 2012, but failed to determine if the two species were, in fact, also morphologically different.
Based on Hollenbeck’s research, the new species has a sort of frill along its body, raised skin and two white spots on the head. To confirm the octopus is, in fact, the one researchers discovered in 2012, Hollenbeck removed one of the tentacles for DNA sampling, but also took a skin swab which not only proved that he had the right octopus but that it was also possible to perform a less invasive DNA test. Hollenbeck and his professor David Scheel published the findings in American Malacological Bulletin and are calling the new species the “frilled giant Pacific octopus.”
Read more here.
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