Scientists have found that Pacific warty octopuses get wartier the deeper they stay; however, they do not know why. These pink octopuses are discovered at depths ranging from 3,600 to 9,000 feet, yet they’re so different in appearance that until recently, researchers thought they could be distinct species.
Janet Voight, associate curator of zoology at the Field Museum, Illinois, and colleagues collected dozens of specimens from different depths, all of which had been classified as belonging to the species Graneledone Pacifica.
Voight informed Newsweek, these octopuses are often seen during dives to those deep parts of the ocean and are usually noticed at a hydrothermal vent in the Northeast Pacific. Hydrothermal vents are openings on the ocean floor where hot, mineral-rich water mixes with the cold ocean.
Researchers counted the variety of warts every octopus had on its again and head, in addition to the array of suckers it had on every arm. Those collected at shallower depths were discovered to be larger, with smoother pink skin. The deeper they got, the smaller and wartier the octopuses were.
However, analysis of their DNA confirmed little difference between the different octopuses collected actively, indicating all of them belong to the identical species.
Voight mentioned she got interested in the octopuses because these relatively large predators have ended up living in the deep ocean, where little prey is available. What benefit wartier skin can be to an octopus living 9,000 feet beneath the surface is unclear, she added.
In a statement, Voight stated being able to identify species from the deep sea is vastly vital in understanding this habitat. “There’s still just a lot we do not know about the deep sea,” she mentioned. “We’d like to be able to understand the information that is becoming available from ROV footage. And we will only do it by knowing what the animals look like.”