Student Discovers Sneaky New Octopus Species
'Frilled giant Pacific octopus' has avoided detection until now
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2017 8:00 AM CST
The new octopus species has two white spots on the front of its head. Its more familiar cousin has just one.   (Alaska Pacific University)

(Newser) – The world has a new octopus: Meet the "frilled giant Pacific octopus," newly detected by a student at Alaska Pacific University working on his senior thesis, reports Earther. The creature resembles the familiar giant Pacific octopus, but Nathan Hollenback not only laid out some distinctive visual differences but took DNA samples that proved it was indeed a new species. One easy giveaway is that the octopus, whose Latin name is still pending, has two white spots in the front of its head, while its more common cousin has one. As its name suggests, the new octopus also has a frill along the length of its body. “Presumably, people have been catching these octopuses for years and no one ever noticed,” says David Scheel, Hollenbeck's adviser. The pair presented their findings in the American Malacological Bulletin.

Given that the giant Pacific octopus is a "master of deception," Elijah Wolfson at Quartz thinks it's fitting that the new cousin has essentially been lurking undetected right under the noses of marine biologists for years. The GPO is known to inhabit a wide swath of the northern Pacific, from the western US coast to the shores of Japan, but the researchers for now estimate that the frilly new species has a smaller range, from Juneau, Alaska, to the Bering Sea. They also think it generally prefers deeper waters. News stories about the discovery suggest it's possible that we may someday come to view "giant Pacific octopus" as more of an umbrella term that encompasses various species rather than one distinct species of its own. (Wales recently had an odd octopus invasion.)

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