Molluscan ResearchISSN 1323-5818
 An international journal of the Malacological Society of Australasia published by Magnolia Press

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Molluscan Research 26(3): 128-140; published 20 December 2006
Copyright © The Malacological Society of Australasia

Wunderpus photogenicus n. gen. and sp., a new octopus from the shallow waters of the Indo-Malayan Archipelago (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae)

Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara, California 93105-2936 USA
Corresponding author
2Sciences, Museum Victoria, GPO Box 666E, Melbourne, VIC 3001, AUSTRALIA
3School of Biological Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, AUSTRALIA


Wunderpus photogenicus n. gen. and n. sp. is a spectacular long-armed species that occurs on soft sediment habitats in shallow waters (typically less than 20 m deep) in Indo-Malayan waters. It is characterized by small eyes on elongate stalks, a long, conical papilla over each eye and a dramatic and fixed color pattern of white bars and spots over a brown-red background. The distribution of the species is centered in the Indo-Malayan Archipelago and extends from Vanuatu to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Malaysia, north to the Philippines. Animals typically emerge at dusk and dawn to forage in the twilight, primarily catching small crustaceans and fishes by flaring the arms and webs over patches of sand or coral rubble to trap enclosed (and typically buried) prey. The species also extends its arms into holes to probe for potential prey. The distinctive color pattern of this species is most pronounced when the octopus is disturbed or threatened by real or perceived attackers. It appears to be a warning display and may represent one of two scenarios: either 1) it warns that the octopus is directly toxic or venomous by nature or; 2) it represents impersonations of toxic or venomous creatures with similar color patterns which co-occur in the same habitat. The new genus and species is compared with, and distinguished from, other long-armed octopuses.

Key words: Wunderpus, octopus, Octopodidae, Cephalopoda, Indo-Malayan Archipelago, taxonomy

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