Californian Opisthoteuthis and its resemblance to Dumbo

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Californian Opisthoteuthis and its resemblance to Dumbo

Californian Opisthoteuthis lives at depths ranging from 500 to 2500 meters, and owes its nickname to the rounded body shape and two fins placed on the head used to direct its movements: an appearance very similar to the Disney elephant.

The animal is present in California, from which it takes its scientific name, up to a depth of 350 m, but in Japan it goes further, up to a depth of 560 m. It is an unusual-looking octopus, because it has a flattened shape and with shorter tentacles.

Over half of each of the eight tentacles is lined with a membrane, which promotes movement. Living in the abyss they have no ink pouch, because this would be useless. The livery is not very variable as in other species, including the distant cousin Octopus vulgaris, in fact it is usually pink-red or yellow.

They have two ear-like protrusions placed on the head that resemble the ears of the Disney character of the same name. It shares the same name as other species belonging to the suborder Cirrina, particularly with the genus Grimpoteuthis.

The Flapjack Octopus feeds on small fish, planktons, crustaceans, and worms. These octopuses are quite capable of hunting and killing their prey. They do so by pouncing on their prey and killing them with their beaks. They are known as the flapjack octopus because they compress themselves, appearing more flattened, therefore acting non-hostile to their prey.

Using this technique, they are able to hunt their prey. Against predators, they hide through crevices and under rocks. The Opisthoteuthis californiana is one of 14 species in the genus Opisthoteuthis. These species are also collectively known as the flapjack devilfishes.

Species of Opisthoteuthis are the most compressed, in the anterior-posterior axis, of any cephalopod. This flattened appearance gives them the common name of flapjack or pancake devilfish. Species are thought to be primarily benthic although they are capable of swimming and in some species the swimming may be an important component of their pouncing on minute prey. As in other cirrates, most species are poorly known.