Cute New Octopus Could Be Named ‘Adorabilis’

Adorabilis Octopus (AFP / Monterrey Bay Aquarium)
AFP / Monterrey Bay Aquarium

One of the perks of being a wildlife researcher is that you get to name new species as they are discovered.

For Dr. Stephanie Bush, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), that could mean naming a previously unclassified, cute-as-a-button deep-sea octopus Opistoteuthis adorabilis.

“As someone that’s describing the species, you get to pick what the specific name is,” Bush said in a new Science Friday video released this week. “One of the thoughts I had was making it Opistoteuthis adorabilis because they are just… yeah, they’re really cute.”

The as-yet-unnamed octopi have distinct “morphological features” that distinguish them from other species, says Bush. They’ve got massive eyes in relation to their body, they’re more gelatinous than other octopi, and they have a “well-developed” web between their eight arms, allowing them to “parachute” around the ocean floor.

Researchers at MBARI are keeping the octopus in a big tank and recreating as much as possible the conditions it lives in in the wild. The octopus was apparently so comfortable in its tank that it laid four little eggs about a year ago.

“It’s been at least a year now that they’ve been developing, and they’re not ready yet,” Bush said in the video. “It may take two and a half to three years or something like that to be ready to hatch out of the eggs.”

In the meantime, Bush will keep researching and thinking up names for the little guys.