The dumbo octopus is perhaps one of the deep sea’s most charming creatures – it glows white in the depths of the ocean, and takes its name from its two humongous flapping ears reminiscent of the elephant in the Disney cartoon.
A baby dumbo octopus looks exactly like its parent, but is tinier and therefore, cuter. The dumbo octopus was first seen in a video taken in 20015 by Tim Shank, an ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Shank and colleagues published study describing how the young octopus, just 10 minutes after hatching, started behaving like a full-grown adult. It could swim with its eight arms, examine the environment, and determine chemical signals. The suckers on its arms were developed enough, suggesting the young creature could actually even catch prey, The Washington Post reports.
The study concludes,
We therefore conclude that [dumbo octopuses] hatch as competent juveniles.
Shank found the baby octopus while on a cruise of the underwater peaks in the North Atlantic. Using a remote-operated underwater vehicle, or ROV, he saw what appeared to be chocolate-colored balls clinging to the branches of deep-sea coral almost 8,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. He scooped up the bumps with the ROV and brought them up.
It turned out that the specimens were egg cases, and one of them began cracking open as Shank retrieved the sample. By the time he made it back to the lab, a tiny octopus had emerged.
Elizabeth Shea, co-author and curator of mollusks at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, said, “Once the fins were observed while it was still in the bucket, it was clear that it was a dumbo octopod.”
The tiny octopus swam around the small dish it was born in, waving its huge ears and bumping against the glass. It had a sac filled with yolk attached to it, likely to keep it nourished before it could feed itself, the researchers observed.
The study was published in Current Biology.