A glowing octopus

Phil

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#1
The 1999 discovery of bioluminescence in the deep water octopus Stauroteuthis has some interesting evolutionary implications:

Press Release

and there is a great video of Stauroteuthis here (along with a few others):

Stauroteuthis video

There is a brand new amazing photograph of Stauroteuthis syrtensis in full parachute mode available here:

Photograph

The specimen was photographed at 725m depth in the Gulf of Maine. Click to enlarge the photo; it is a stunner.

I'm sure Steve and Tintenfisch could correct me, but it seems that this is the only cirrate octopus which displays bioluminescence. The implication here is that the animal's suckers evolved a secondary function of bioluminescence as the animals ancestors adopted increasingly deep water habitats. The original function of the suckers, i.e to grasp rocks and the sea floor, became redundant, as the creature slowly adapted to a deep water pelagic niche. Slowly the suckers changed from their original function to that of a light producing organ, probably to attract prey items such as copepods. (Kat mentioned this in her article on Deep-Sea Cephalopods).

It seems we are looking at a fascinating example of evolution in action!

[edited from a May 2003 post]
 

Euprymna

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#2
I haven't managed to read their published paper describing the suckers. Does anybody have any information on what kind of bioluminescence Sauroteuthis is using? Is it bacterial or chemical?
Euprymna scolopes and tasmanica uses the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri to produce light at night for counterillumination whilst
most deep water fish produce light based on chemical reactions and not by bacterial symbiont. I wonder what's the case for deep water light producing cephs...any idea?

eups
 

Phil

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#3
Here you go Euprymna, this is the 1999 paper you need:

Bioluminescence in the Deep Sea Octopod Stauroteuthis syrtensis

by SGNKE JOHNSEN’, ELIZABETH J. BALSER’, ERIN C. FISHER’, AND EDITH A. WTDDER’

Click here
 

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