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Scientists Didn't Expect This on the Ocean Floor

The 'Dumbo' octopus just defied expectations
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2020 1:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Imagine going deep underwater, spotting strange creatures in the dark—and making a first-ever find. That's what researchers say happened when they spotted a so-called "Dumbo" octopus on the Indian Ocean floor for the first time, Science Times reports. The white cephalopod, named after Disney's Dumbo for its big ear-like fins, was seen swimming at roughly 23,000 feet in the Java Trench. That's deeper than any octopus has been seen before. Alan Jamieson, a scientist behind the find, says this shows octopuses can create habitats in at least 99% of the world's seafloor.

"They'd have to do something clever inside their cells," he tells the BBC. "If you imagine a cell is like a balloon—it's going to want to collapse under pressure. So, it will need some smart biochemistry to make sure it retains that sphere. All the adaptations you need to live at pressure are at the cellular level." Jamieson says it also reveals what's really going on at such depths, which "blur that line between the depths we think we care about and the depths we don't. This idea that only animals in a kind Victorian freak show live at depth isn't right."
(Read more octopus stories.)

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