28. March 2022

Emperor dumbo enters hit list of notable new marine species Emperor dumbo enters hit list of notable new marine species

Dumbo octopuses have large fins on the left and right sides of their head, reminiscent of the flying elephant in the Walt Disney film of the same name. In the summer of 2016, evolutionary biologist Dr. Alexander Ziegler from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Ecology at the University of Bonn collected a specimen of about 30 centimeter length from a water depth of about 4,000 meters during a cruise aboard the research vessel “Sonne” in the North Pacific. As it turned out, it was a previously unknown species (https://www.uni-bonn.de/en/news/096-2021). The description of the new dumbo octopus Grimpoteuthis imperator was published in 2021 in the journal BMC Biology (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-021-01000-9). Recently, the deep-sea creature colloquially known as the “Emperor dumbo” was included in the World Register of Marine Species' “Ten remarkable new marine species from 2021” hit list (https://lifewatch.be/en/2022.03.19-WoRMS-LifeWatch-press-release).

The Emperor dumbo (Grimpoteuthis imperator)
The Emperor dumbo (Grimpoteuthis imperator) - is about 30 centimeters long. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Alexander Ziegler recovered it from about 4,000 meters depth from the North Pacific aboard the research vessel "Sonne". © Photo: Alexander Ziegler
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It was not only the unusual appearance of the rather remotely living animal that caused a media stir: Ziegler's team refrained from dissecting the valuable specimen for their description, instead analyzing it non-destructively using state-of-the-art imaging techniques. The result was a razor-sharp digital copy of the animal. For further study or learning purposes the data can be downloaded by anyone interested from the online database MorphoBank (https://morphobank.org/index.php/Projects/ProjectOverview/project_id/3721). The preserved octopus itself will be kept in the archives of the Berlin Museum of Natural History - and will certainly be talked about even more often.

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