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Fascinating Facts About Octopuses: Adorable, Dumbo, and Two-Spot

Linda Crampton is a writer and teacher with an honors degree in biology. She loves to study nature and write about living things.

This picture of a dumbo octopus represents the first time that coiled arms (or legs) were seen in the species.

This picture of a dumbo octopus represents the first time that coiled arms (or legs) were seen in the species.

Fascinating Animals

Octopuses are fascinating invertebrates. At least some species have the intelligence that we associate with vertebrates, which are generally considered to be more advanced animals than those in the invertebrate group. Octopuses have a different body structure from vertebrates, yet they can sense and manipulate objects very effectively. At least some species can analyze situations and solve problems that they encounter. Researchers continue to discover new facts about these impressive and unusual animals.

Three especially interesting types of octopuses live off the coast of California. One lacks an official name but is sometimes described as adorable due to its appearance. The dumbo octopus reminds observers of the Disney cartoon character known as Dumbo the Elephant. Scientists have recently sequenced the genome of the California two-spot octopus and have found that it contains some very unusual features.

The blue-ringed octopus of Australia and Indonesia exists as several species and has a deadly bite. It's thought to be the only octopus that is dangerous to humans. This is Hapalochlaena maculosa.

The blue-ringed octopus of Australia and Indonesia exists as several species and has a deadly bite. It's thought to be the only octopus that is dangerous to humans. This is Hapalochlaena maculosa.

Features of an Octopus

Most octopuses have some features in common. Since not all of the animals are well known and new species are still being discovered, there may be some that break the following "rules".

  • All octopuses live in the ocean.
  • They have a soft body (to a greater or lesser extent) with eight arms. In most species, the arms have suckers.
  • The arms of an octopus surround its mouth. The mouth contains a tough, parrot-like beak that is used to kill prey and tear it apart. Inside the beak is a tongue-like radula covered with rasping teeth.
  • All octopuses have a venomous bite, which is some cases produces painful results. Only the blue-ringed octopus is dangerous to humans, however. Its bite is deadly and its venom kills rapidly.
  • The sac-like body covering behind the head of an octopus is known as the mantle. The vital organs are located under the mantle.
  • Many octopuses release ink from an ink sac when they are threatened. The ink contains concentrated melanin, the same pigment that colours our skin and hair. The release of a cloud of ink confuses predators, allowing an octopus to escape.
The common octopus, or Octopus vulgaris, in the Mediterranean Sea

The common octopus, or Octopus vulgaris, in the Mediterranean Sea

Some More Features

  • Most octopuses have a well developed eye that has an iris, a lens, and a retina, like our eyes. The eyes are believed to have evolved independently from those of humans.
  • The animals breathe by means of gills. Water enters the body through an opening at the bottom of the mantle, flows over the gills, and then leaves the body through a tube called the siphon. The siphon can be seen on the side of the animal's body. The gills extract oxygen from the water and give up carbon dioxide.
  • An octopus has three hearts.
  • The animal's blood is blue. The pigment in the blood is called hemocyanin and contains copper. The pigment in our blood is called hemoglobin. It's red in colour and contains iron.
  • Octopuses move by crawling over the ground or by swimming. Some swim by a type of jet propulsion. They absorb water through the opening in their mantle and then expel it forcefully through their siphon.
  • At least two thirds of an octopus's neurons, or nerve cells, enter its arms. The arms can even perform jobs when separated from their owner (for a limited time).
  • At least some species of octopus can solve problems and puzzles, learn new things, and use tools.
The East Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens) can be found off the coast of California and in other areas.

The East Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens) can be found off the coast of California and in other areas.

Reproduction

  • During mating, the male inserts a packet of sperm into the female's body with a specialized arm called a hectocotylus. Sometimes he detaches the arm with its sperm and gives it to the female to store until later.
  • Fertilization takes place inside the female's body.
  • Once the eggs are laid, the female cares for them until they hatch. She then leaves the youngsters to their fate.
  • Sadly, octopuses don't live for very long. Some of the larger ones may live as long as five years, but that seems to be the maximum lifespan and isn't often attained. Some animals live for only six months. Females die soon after the eggs have hatched. Males die soon after reproduction as well.

The Adorable Octopus

The "adorable" octopus lives in the deep water of Monterey Bay in California. It doesn't have an official scientific or common name yet, even though the animal has been known since 1990. The name Opisthoteuthis adorabilis has been suggested and has become a popular idea. After studying the features of the animal, scientists are certain that it should be classified in the genus Opisthoteuthis and that it belongs to a group known as flapjack octopuses. They haven't decided on its species, however.

The octopus is small and delicate. It could definitely be classified as cute. It's pale to dark orange in colour and has a gelatinous and fragile body. The animal also has large eyes, a feature that probably helps it to see in the dark water of its natural habitat. Its arms are short and webbed. There is a small fin located high up on each side of its mantle. The animal spreads the web between its arms like a parachute and uses its fins to help it steer as it swims. The "parachute" is a feature of the family Opisthoteuthidae. Members of the family are known as umbrella octopuses.

Stephanie Bush is a scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. She is the researcher that has been most involved in the study of the octopus and came up with the idea of the "adorabilis" name. As of 2020, however, the name doesn't seem to have been officially accepted. According to WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species), "Opisthoteuthis adorabilis" is a nomen nudum, or a term that looks like a scientific name but hasn't been accepted as one.

A dumbo octopus preparing to swim

A dumbo octopus preparing to swim

The Dumbo Octopus: Grimpoteuthis

Dumbo octopuses belong to the genus Grimpoteuthis. There are seventeen or eighteen species in the genus. They live in many places around the world in addition to California. Dumbo octopuses belong to the same family as the adorable species and have certain features in common with them, including the webbed arms and the fins. The fins of a dumbo octopus are long and substantial, however, and often look quite peculiar to people who are not familiar with the animal.

Like their adorable relative, dumbo octopuses are small animals that live in deep water and have large eyes. They generally don't have the delicate appearance of the adorable octopus, however.

A dumbo octopus has a U-shaped shell inside its mantle. This means that its body is not completely soft and that it can't squeeze through small spaces, unlike the finless octopuses. The shell often gives the mantle a smooth and slightly bulbous appearance.

The Life of a Dumbo Octopus

Dumbo octopuses are predators, like other octopuses. They feed on worms, crustaceans, shellfish, and copepods. They have a beak but may or may not have a radula. They usually swallow their prey whole.

Dumbo octopuses move by crawling over the ocean bottom and by swimming. They flap their fins and sometimes fold and unfold their "umbrella" as they swim. Their movements are often slow and graceful. They can use their siphon and the jet propulsion method favoured by finless octopuses if necessary, however.

The female receives sperm from a male. Fertilization is internal. There is some evidence that the female contains eggs at different stages of development and can lay eggs at any time of the year.

The California Two-Spot Octopus

The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides) belongs to the finless suborder. It's found in many locations, including California. Adults are variable in colour. They commonly have a mottled yellow, brown, or grey appearance.

The name of the animal comes from a large eye spot or ocellus below and slightly behind each eye. The ocellus consists of a black background containing a blue ring. It's more visible at some times than at others. For example, in the video below the ocellus can be seen at the start of the video and then disappears.

Like the other members of its suborder, the California two-spot octopus hides in a den when it's not hunting. It's a predator and eats crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, mollusks, and small fish. The animal is also known as the bimac octopus and is sometimes kept as a pet.

Genome of the California Two-Spot Octopus

Scientists have jokingly said that the unusual genome of the California two-spot octopus comes from "something like an alien" in order to emphasize its intriguing nature. Octopuses aren't aliens from space, despite the claims of some publications, but their genome does have some unexpected features.

  • The genome of the California two-spot octopus is nearly as large as a human's. In addition, it contains 33,000 genes that code for proteins. The human genome contains fewer than 25,000 protein-coding genes.
  • The octopus genome contains 168 protocadherin genes, which is more than twice as many as humans. These genes are very important in the development of the nervous system and in the interaction of neurons.
  • A gene family with the interesting name of zinc-finger transcription factors is greatly expanded in the octopus genome. The family contains about 1,800 genes in octopuses. These genes are thought to be important in octopus development.
  • Researchers have found six genes that code for proteins called reflectins. These proteins control how light is reflected from the skin, thereby altering the appearance of the octopus.
This is a section of a DNA molecule. DNA contains four bases–adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. The order of the bases on one strand of DNA forms the genetic code.

This is a section of a DNA molecule. DNA contains four bases–adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. The order of the bases on one strand of DNA forms the genetic code.

More Genome Discoveries

  • The octopus genome–at least at it exists in Octopus bimaculoides–shows that some of the animal's tissues have the ability to edit RNA (ribonucleic acid). DNA can't leave the nucleus of a cell. The ribosomes that make protein are located outside the nucleus, however. Normally, the DNA code in the nucleus is sent via RNA to the ribosomes, which make protein by reading the RNA code. If octopus proteins need to be changed, this can done by quickly changing the code in the RNA. Unlike the case in other organisms, the DNA doesn't have to be altered.
  • Octopuses have a large number of transposons, or jumping genes, that move around in the genome.
  • Genes that are active in the suckers of an octopus control the production of a protein that resembles the acetylcholine receptor in humans. Acetylcholine is a vital chemical in humans that controls the transmission of a nerve impulse from one neuron to another. Acetylcholine must bind to receptors on the surface of neurons in order to do its job. Researchers think that in the octopus the receptors are involved in the ability of the suckers to taste.

The Importance of Further Research

Octopuses are fascinating animals to observe and study. They are very unusual invertebrates and are an important part of their ecosystem. It's interesting and educational to learn about their lives and behaviour. The studies could not only expand our knowledge of nature but also be useful for us.

One of the amazing things about life on Earth is that all living things contain DNA and that genes work in the same way throughout the living world. The only entities that don't have DNA are some viruses. They do contain a genome, but it's made of RNA instead of DNA. Despite this fact, like other viruses they require the help of the DNA of a cell in order to reproduce.

This similarity between life forms means that by exploring DNA in other organisms—especially the more complex animals like octopuses—we may learn something that applies to our own genome. That's an intriguing thought.

References

  • Octopus information from the Smithsonian Magazine
  • Information about a tiny and adorable octopus from Discover Magazine
  • Scientific name of the adorable octopus from the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)
  • Dumbo octopus facts from the Aquarium of the Pacific
  • An analysis of the genome of the California two-spot octopus from the EurekAlert science news service

© 2015 Linda Crampton

Comments

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on May 20, 2018:

Thank you for the comment.

toms on May 20, 2018:

this was so helpful

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 19, 2018:

Thanks for the comment and for sharing the information. I've reloaded the first video. It's running well, at least on my device.

Linda on March 15, 2018:

The video bugged out but I like the hud thanks

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on July 10, 2016:

Hi, ValKaras. Thank you very much for the interesting comment. I appreciate your visit and your kindness!

ValKaras on July 08, 2016:

Linda - What a great hub about these strange marine creatures! About their plural - I thought it was a Latin name, since "octo" in Latin means eight, and in that case "octopi" would be the proper plural. However, (as always) modified to fit English the way it gets pronounced, because not much respect is given to the original way it sounds in Latin - which would sound like "octopee", not "octopye". Similar like in math, 3.14 is originally pronounced as "pee", not "pye". Just a little about this stuff.

However, no matter what they are called, again, these creatures are fascinating, like many other in the ocean, and you have done a great work in this hub. I certainly admire your knowledge about so many different species.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2016:

Thank you, Bill. I appreciate the congratulations.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 18, 2016:

Congratulations Linda. Always an education. Thank you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2016:

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, swilliams!

swilliams on March 18, 2016:

What an insightful article! I don't find octopuses to be cute, however I can see the similarity found in the Dumbo Octopuses, to be similar to the Disney Character. Great article!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2016:

Hi, RTalloni. Yes, octopuses are fascinating creatures. It's wonderful that we are developing better ways to learn about them. I agree with you - there is almost certainly much more to discover about life on Earth! Thank you for the congrats.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2016:

Hi, Kristen. Thanks for the congrats. I always appreciate your visits and comments.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on March 18, 2016:

Thank you very much for the congratulations, Thelma. I appreciate your visit.

RTalloni on March 18, 2016:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this very interesting post on a sea creature that has always creeped me out. I don't have many fears about the ocean, but encountering an octopus has always been one.

Now, I do feel a bit differently.

I knew there had to be different sorts but had never taken the time to explore them. Your introduction to these was a neat read. Heeeheheeeee on the aliens from outer-space concept!

Thanks for more insight into these truly fascinating creatures of the deep. The answers yet to come to researchers prove how little we now know about the infinite mysteries of physical life on earth. The fact that we are able to do such detailed research in this day and time is an amazement in and of itself!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 18, 2016:

Linda, congrats on another HOTD! You're on a roll. This is a fascinating hub on octopuses and those different kinds that I never heard of. Real interesting and amazing to know all about them. Thanks for sharing.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on March 18, 2016:

Congratulations on the HOTD! This is a fascinating hub with lots of informations. Thanks for sharing AliciaC.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on January 14, 2016:

Thank you, Jackie. I've been fascinated by octopuses for a long time, too. They are very interesting animals.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on January 14, 2016:

I have always been fascinated by the octopus. You could never convince me that such complex beauties as these just happened. Not in a million years.

You did a great job!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on December 17, 2015:

Thanks for the visit and the comment, ignugent17!

ignugent17 on December 17, 2015:

Great information. It is my first time to see the image of this kind of octopus. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on November 13, 2015:

Thank you for the lovely comment, Patricia. I appreciate it a great deal. As always, I'm grateful for the angels as well!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 12, 2015:

This should be entitled Everything You Do Not Know About the Octopus :D

I thought I knew thing or two about this amazing creature ...however, there was so much you filled in that I had no idea about.

The adorabilis is a cutie pie..the video was amazing....

Thank you for sharing such a fine tuned hub with us.

Angels are on the way to you this early morning hour ps

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 21, 2015:

Thank you very much for the visit and the kind comment, Sheila.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on October 21, 2015:

I have always been fascinated by octopus. You gave so much interesting information here and the videos are great!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 20, 2015:

Thanks, poetryman. It's very interesting to think about what the octopus could teach us.

poetryman6969 on October 20, 2015:

A fascinating article. Some think that the octopus can tell us something about how a non-human intelligence would approach the world.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 12, 2015:

Thank you, truthfornow. I appreciate your visit and comment.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on October 12, 2015:

I had no idea that there were so many different species. Very fascinating and informative.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 08, 2015:

Thanks for the comment, Scribenet. I think that some octopuses look cute, too!

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on October 08, 2015:

What a fascinating creature. Some even manage to look cute! Very interesting biology. They are the real blue-bloods...lol.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on October 04, 2015:

Thank you very much for such a kind comment, stuff4kids! I appreciate your visit. The intelligence of some octopuses is very interesting. They are fascinating animals.

Amanda Littlejohn on October 04, 2015:

An extraordinarily informative article about these astonishing cephalopod molluscs and adorned with such beautiful photographs! You've clearly done a lot of research here and it makes for a fabulous read.

I understand that one of the most extraordinary features of these animals is their apparent intelligence. At least among the larger members of the family.

I really enjoyed reading this - thank you so much!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 27, 2015:

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Express10. I think it's sad that the animals live for such a short time, too.

H C Palting from East Coast on September 27, 2015:

I would love to see these creatures in the wild. Some commenters are lucky enough to be able to do so. It's a bit sad that they have such short lifespans. Thank you so much for the details and effort you put into providing to us about these fascinating creatures.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 20, 2015:

Thanks for the comment, Devika.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 19, 2015:

Informative and most interesting.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on September 14, 2015:

Hi, Flourish. Thank you very much for the visit and the comment!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 14, 2015:

Now we know the appropriate plural and why! Thanks for all the fascinating facts about these creatures. Three hearts. Who knew?

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 24, 2015:

Hi, Deb. I agree - ocean life is certainly fascinating, especially deep sea life. Thanks for the comment.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on August 24, 2015:

These are lovely and fascinating. There is so much that remains to be known about the deep sea and its inhabitants. Thanks for sharing one of the most interesting parts of it.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 23, 2015:

Thank you very much, Genna. I appreciate the kind comment. I think that octopuses are fascinating, too. I wish they lived longer.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 23, 2015:

What an interesting article. You have given context and character to a fascinating creature that is often feared, but misunderstood. I loved the videos as well in this beautifully crafted hub.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 23, 2015:

Thank you so much, Faith. I appreciate your comment and shares a great deal! Octopus eyes are certainly interesting.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 23, 2015:

Thank you very much, peachpurple.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 23, 2015:

Incredible article, Linda. They are certainly fascinating animals. I never knew they have three hearts! That one eye is creepy to me along with those eight arms with suctions ...however, the Dumbo one is truly adorable.

Sharing everywhere

peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 23, 2015:

Fascinating pictures

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 22, 2015:

Hi, thumbi7. Yes, octopus eggs in deep water can take a surprising long time to hatch! I like the appearance of dumbo octopuses, too. Thanks for the comment.

JR Krishna from India on August 22, 2015:

Wow! so much information on octopuses. I never knew eggs of octopuses take long time to hatch.

Though the name is 'dumbo' I like the color of it

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 21, 2015:

Thank you so much for the visit and comment, Bill. I hope you have a great weekend, too.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 21, 2015:

Wonderful hub Linda. I was not aware that there was a Dumbo Octopus. How cute. As always thank you for the education. Have a great weekend.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 20, 2015:

Thank you very much, Rachel. I appreciate your visit and the kind comment! Blessings to you, as well.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on August 20, 2015:

Amazing! I never knew that there were so many different kinds of octopuses. I loved the video with the babies being hatched. Also the Dumbo octopus was indeed adorable. If I could I would give this a high vote.

Blessings to you.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 20, 2015:

Hi, Blossom. Thank you very much for the comment! I think the blue-ringed octopus is pretty, too.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on August 20, 2015:

Such an interesting article - thank you! Also for clearing up the octopuses/ octopi dilemma. In Australia we also have blue-ringed ones that are poisonous, but quite pretty.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thanks, Mel. I appreciate your visit and comment, as always.

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on August 19, 2015:

As usual this was fascinating and educational stuff. I wish I had been paying more attention when I went to Catalina. Great hub.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thank you very much for the lovely comment and the vote, drbj! Most of the work on octopus intelligence has been done on captive animals. Octopuses can do all sorts of interesting things! Describing them would make a hub in itself. I might write about them some time.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 19, 2015:

What a fascinating trip into the world of these unusual octopuses, Alicia. I learned many new facts and enjoyed the videos immensely. Now how did scientists discover that some of these species could solve puzzles?

This is an exceptional Hub, m'dear and more than deserves its Up.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Hi, Nell. Thanks so much for the comment, the vote and the share! I'm a great fan of the octopus, too.

Nell Rose from England on August 19, 2015:

Hi Alicia, I am a great fan of Octopus, I love them because of their great intelligence, so this was fascinating reading! great article, voted up and shared! nell

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thank you very much, Peg. Octopuses are certainly amazing!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on August 19, 2015:

Fascinating article and interesting facts about these amazing creatures. I had read somewhere that they were intelligent but to learn that they can solve puzzles is incredible. You did a great job in making this interesting.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thank you for such a kind comment, Audrey! I appreciate your comment and the share very, very much.

Audrey Howitt from California on August 19, 2015:

What a fabulous article Linda!! You should be proud! Sharing!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thank you very much for the visit, m abdullah javed. I appreciate your visit.

muhammad abdullah javed on August 19, 2015:

Linda you took us to the depth of ocean with your beautiful description of octopi ☺, I was expecting you would say in what ways the octopuses are useful in future predictions? Anyway it's a wonderful and interesting hub. Thanks.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Hi, Larry. Thank you very much for the comment. I think that nature is very interesting!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 19, 2015:

Such interesting looking animals. I didn't realize they were venomous. I'm always learning something new about our planet.

Wonderfully done!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Thank you very much, Susan. I like the adorable octopus, too!

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 19, 2015:

Hi, Bill. Thanks for the comment. I always appreciate your visit.

Susan Hambidge from Kent, England on August 19, 2015:

This is really good hub, I love the adorable octopus!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 19, 2015:

Well we have no shortage of them in the Puget Sound, that's for sure. Great information here, as always.

Linda Crampton (author) from British Columbia, Canada on August 18, 2015:

Thank you very much for such a kind comment, Buildreps! I appreciate your visit and comment a great deal.

Buildreps from Europe on August 18, 2015:

What an astounding beautiful article, Linda. You've provided so much details and so much facts about octopi:) that my head is dazzling. Thanks for this greatness.

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