Cephalopods have long captured the human imagination, whether it be in bemused curiosity or morbid fear. A reaction of fear is certainly an understandable one, as squid and octopus have been stigmatized over centuries as fearsome creatures of the deep, man-eaters capable of disappearing entire ships in the still of the night. Although they are predatory creatures, the typical diet of a cephalopod consists of crustaceans, shelled mollusks, and gastropods, prey that can be pierced with their sharp beak and torn to pieces — not the dense and awkward bone structures of humans. Indeed, cephalopods have much more reason to fear man than the other way around!
But one cephalopod that most certainly elicits “ooh”s and “aww”s rather than terrified panic is the Grimpoteuthis, or more adorably, the Dumbo octopus. So named for a pair of fins that protrude from either side of its “head”, the Dumbo octopus is a bathypelagic creature, residing in depths of 1,000 to 4,000 meters, with reports of sightings as deep as 7,000 meters. This region of the sea receives no natural light, resulting in clever adaptations on the part of the creatures who live there in order to survive. Although the Grimpoteuthis is capable of propulsion, which is facilitated through the use of its funnel, arms, and ear-like fins, it spends much of its time hovering over the seabed, searching for worms, amphipods, and crustaceans to swallow whole. Instead of the usual crushing and tearing methods that other cephalopods employ, this method of predation allows this unusual cephalopod to conserve energy, a resource of great importance in these Cimmerian reaches of the ocean.
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