Scientists were left surprised when they found striking similarities between a newborn and full-grown Dumbo octopuses while observing a hatching for the first time. While most species of octopuses are born as vulnerable larvae and have distinctive growing phase, Dumbo octopuses are born with a fully-formed body and a complex nervous system.
Dumbo octopuses are strange creatures and not much is known about them. They reside at extreme depths and thus are very difficult to study. They have a distinct appearance with two ear-like flapping fins protruding from either side of the mantle, giving them the name Dumbo after Disney's famous elephant character.
Marine biologist Tim Shank from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, during the Deep Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition, collected golf ball-sized eggs from a depth of about 2,000 kilometers (1.2 miles), according to Science Alert.
"With each successive collection, it became apparent that this was some sort of an egg case... The first few were open and empty, the next two contained a white gelatinous mass within, and the final collection yielded the specimen described in the paper," Shank was quoted as saying by the website.
He put this egg in a bucket of water in the ship's cold room, mimicking the natural environment. Soon the baby octopus came wriggling out.
"Once the fins were observed while it was still in the bucket, it was clear that it was a 'dumbo' octopod," said curator Elizabeth Shea, according to Phys.org
The researchers found that the hatchling showcased an advanced state of organ development. It had all the features required for swimming, sensing their environments, and capturing prey.
Scientists are sure that this new finding will help them clearly distinguish between Dumbo octopuses and other species of octopuses.
She said that it is a known fact that adults are predominantly benthopelagic [living and feeding near the seafloor, as well as in mid waters or nearer to the surface]. The females lay eggs on the ocean bottom, and they come in different sizes, colors, and textures.
"Our work connects the dots between a particular egg, a particular coral, and a particular octopod," Shea said.