For the first time, researchers have captured footage of adorable “Dumbo” octopuses hatching on camera. And now that we’ve seen them from the jump, it is clear that they come into the world as mostly developed creatures. The footage was caught back in 2005 and shows how the hatchling octopuses have their organs almost fully developed at birth. And when researchers got this close look, they noted how the baby octopuses resembled their adult counterparts almost exactly, except for their small stature.
Because these “Dumbo” octopuses live deep in the sea, they are elusive. Footage like this is hard to come by because they’re so out of reach for normal people.
The report that revealed this breakthrough also described other tendencies of this unique octopus species that live thousands of feet below you and me.
If you haven’t guessed yet, the octopuses get their name “Dumbo” because they have oversized skin that resembles the Disney elephant’s large ears.
Based on the 2005 video footage, the researchers input the data into computer models and created 3D versions of the tiny creatures. They did this from the MRI technology they used to scan the newborn octopuses at the time of birth. And through that lengthy and tedious scientific process, they were able to determine that the baby octopuses are as capable as their adult versions.
The marvelous team that led this scientific breakthrough was the Deep Atlantic Stepping Stones cruise, which published their research in Current Biology.
The cruise deployed Remotely Operated Vehicles or ROVs into the ocean and sent them down to the ocean’s floor. In the complete darkness of the underwater environment, they watched the Dumbo octopuses living and moving about freely, just moments after they hatched.
Scientists brought a sample octopus up from the depths more than 6,600 feet below the surface. On board the Ronald H. Brown US research vessel, they examined the strange species and kept it in a five-gallon bucket of seawater, which they held at the frigid temperatures of the creature’s underwater habitat.
The specimen was found off the East Coast of the United States among a range of underwater mountains.
Researcher Dr. Tim Shank had the privilege to analyze the sample. Among the corral pieces they had brought up to the surface, he found golf-ball sized things.
“With each successive collection it became apparent that this was some sort of an egg case,” Dr. Shank said. “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.”
As he watched, the sample began to hatch. Those lucky enough to be present watched the incredibly rare sight of the Dumbo octopus hatching.
The report said, “By the time [Dr. Shank] got the bucket out of the cold room and inspected the egg case, it was open, and part of the hatchling was partially exposed. At first, the hatchling wasn’t moving much, if at all. But after emerging fully from the egg case and being brought into the lab, the hatchling swam for about ten minutes, which the researchers captured on film.”