Why Do Dumbo Octopuses Have Floppy Ears? The dumbo octopuses sport big, floppy ear-like fins which make them stand out among other octopodes. Two ear-like fins are positioned on both sides of the “head”. No other kind of octopus has these. They are also sometimes called winged octopuses because the ‘ears‘ can also look like ‘wings‘.
However, they are neither ears nor wings but fins and just as fishes use their fins to swim, dumbo octopuses flap these fins to float above the ocean floor and move in different directions. They use these fins to propel through the water and steer through water currents.
That’s the main way they swim around to conserve energy, although they can also swim via jet propulsion like other octopuses – swallowing a large amount of water and then letting it out all at once to push the octopus forward quickly. They can also crawl across the ocean floor.
The scientific name for this group is Grimpoteuthis. But people have also given them a more fitting name. It’s based on a certain animated character. Most people call the world’s cutest cephalopod or know these animals as dumbo octopuses!
In total, there are over 15 species of dumbo octopus. Experts don’t think they’re at risk of extinction, but it is very rare to see one. In fact, their habitat is deeper underwater than that of any other octopus. Many of them live 13,000 feet below the surface.
They are “cirrate” octopuses, a group of deep-sea octopuses that have slender protrusions trailing from their suckers called cirri. The role of cirri is not known, but it’s thought to have something to do with feeding.
Dumbo octopuses are special in a few other ways, too. They’re the only octopuses that don’t shoot ink. And the way they swim is different, too. Most of their eight-tentacled cousins get around by shooting water out of siphons. Instead, the dumbo octopus swims around with the use of its ear-like fins.
They can vary from eight inches to six feet long. And, like other types of octopus, they can change color. This helps them hide from predators. It also lets them blend in with their surroundings while hunting their prey.
A dumbo octopus’s diet is made up of smaller animals it finds near the ocean floor. This includes worms, snails, and clams. The ocean floor is also where dumbo octopuses lay their eggs. They attach the eggs to rocks to keep them safe until they hatch. Dumbo octopuses are known to live all over the planet, including near New Zealand and California.
Content for this question contributed by Andy Walker, resident of Reynoldsville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, USA