A recently described species of octopus needs a name, and it’s so cute scientists Might Name It ‘Adorabilis’. What do you call an octopus that’s got stubby little tentacles, is bright pink, super squishy, and looks like a Pac-Man ghost? Why not Adorabilis, suggests its describer, Stephanie Bush, at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
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The newly discovered, cartoon-like creature is so cute that “adorable” might become part of its scientific name. It started with a joke from a Moss Landing scientist who’s faced with identifying the species. “I thought that since this animal is so adorable, I should name it adorabilis,” laughed Stephanie Bush, postdoctoral fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “I’m supposed to be this really serious stoic scientist, but I’m still human. It’s just so cute.”
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The fist-sized octopus has been making waves online since Science Friday recently released a video celebrating Cephalopod Week, which begins Friday. Many fawning over the rare cephalopod have their fingers crossed in hopes Bush will name it Opisthoteuthis adorabilis. But identifying a species is a painstaking process that can take years. While researchers first collected this unidentified octopus in the early 1990s, Bush is the first to take on describing the species.
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“Giving it a name is one of the easiest parts,” she said. “We have to collect multiple specimens. There’s a lot of counting and measuring essentially. You have to differentiate one species from others.” This nameless octopus might look familiar. It’s the same genus as Pearl, the pink flapjack octopus (Opisthoteuthis califoriana) in the film “Finding Nemo.” Scientist thought they were the same animal until Bush noted key distinctions while working with the two species for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Tentacles” exhibit last year.
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Though precious, their pinkish color is common among deep-sea creatures. Since red light doesn’t reach the black waters of the deep sea, animals who are red appear black. The camouflage helps them avoid predators and attack prey, which is worms and tiny crustaceans for this octopus. They live along the California Coast in abyssal depths up to 2,600 feet. Bush found her specimens in the Monterey Bay. Their gelatinous body measures about 7 inches in diameter and their arms are webbed.
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Though the flapjack octopus species mostly sits on the deep sea floor, it swims by flapping its fan of arms to propel through the water, steering with its fins. One of the live cute creatures Bush is studying laid eggs about a year ago. There’s no telling when they’ll hatch, but she can’t wait. “I want to see what these baby octopuses look like,” Bush said. Because the only thing cuter than the nameless pink octopus is probably its babies. Bush said she still hasn’t decided to name it adorabalis, but even if she did, it wouldn’t be that outlandish. You can watch its video below: