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Newly discovered species of octopus in China weighs just 40g as an adult

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Mollusks (Cephalopoda), which include octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and nautiluses, are cephalopods. These are ancient animals present in all the world’s seas that are considered to have evolved 500 million years ago. They include several of the most intelligent species on the planet.

A group of scientists discovered a previously unknown species of octopus on Dongshan Island in China’s Fujian province.

Callistoctopus xiaohongxu is a small to moderately sized octopus, weighing less than 40 g as an adult. The species, known to locals but long misidentified as another, has smooth skin and a reddish-brown hue.

Scientists reveal the identity of a Chinese octopus

(Photo: Matteo Vella/ via Unsplash)

Locals and fishermen were indeed familiar with the species for a long time, but they kept mistaking it for a juvenile variant of the common long-arm octopus (‘Octopus’ minor), which is traded across the country, according to daily science.

The group of scientists from the Ocean University of China acquired a batch of specimens from the Dongshan seafood market pier that locals had misdiagnosed as ‘O’.

Upon beginning to investigate them, it became clear that they were a distinct and unique species. Callistoctopus xiaohongxu was given its own name and a scientific description was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

The scientific name xiaohongxu is a phonetic translation of the species’ native Chinese name in Zhangzhou, where it was discovered.

It refers to its smooth, reddish-brown skin, which are two of its distinctive features. In its adult stage, C. weighs less than 40 g. Xiaohongxu is classified as a small to medium sized octopus. The researchers also mention that it is the first new species of Callistoctopus discovered in China.

In the Chinese seas, more than 130 different species of cephalopods have been identified. Due to the impact of strong warm currents, the seas of Southeast China provide optimal natural conditions for vast marine biodiversity, and the discovery of C. Xiaohongxu confirms the enormous variety of organisms in the Southeast China Sea.

Read more: Casper, the friendly ghostly octopus found in the depths

Behavior, reproduction and conservation status of cephalopods

Cephalopods are incredibly intelligent and highly mobile ocean-dwelling organisms that vary in size and lifestyle dramatically, according to ThoughtCo.

They all have at least 8 arms and a parrot beak. They have three hearts through which blue blood circulates: cephalopod blood is copper-based rather than iron-based like human blood.

Some cephalopods feature sucking tentacles, camera-like eyes, color-changing skin, and complicated learning behaviors.

Many cephalopods, particularly octopuses, are skilled problem solvers and escape artists. They can shed a cloud of ink, burrow into the sand, change color or even let their skin bioluminesce, emitting light like a firefly, to hide from predators or their prey.

Color changes in the skin are created by expanding or contracting pigment-filled sacs in the skin known as chromatophores.

Cephalopods are male and female, and mating normally involves courtship, which can include changes in skin color depending on the species.

Some species of cephalopods congregate in large numbers to mate. The male transmits a sperm packet to the female through her mantle hole using a modified penis or arm; females are polyandrous, meaning they can be impregnated by numerous males.

Females lay large yolk-bearing eggs in clusters on the ocean floor, producing 5 to 30 egg cases, each containing four to six embryos.

Cephalopods reproduce rapidly and overfishing is rarely a problem. Nautilus nacre is highly prized in the United States and internationally, and although they are not on the IUCN Red List, they have in fact been protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 2016 .

Related article: The ancestors of the octopus among the first animals on Earth, dating back to 509 million years ago!

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