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A new species of pygmy Paroctopus Naef, 1923 (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae): the smallest southwestern Atlantic octopod, found in sea debris

Abstract

The new species, Paroctopus cthulu sp. nov. Leite, Lima, Lima and Haimovici was recorded from shallow coastal waters of south and southeastern Brazil, where most specimens were found sheltered in marine debris. It is a small octopus; adults are less than 35 mm mantle length (ML) and weight around 15 g. It has short- to medium-sized arms, enlarged suckers on the arms of both males and females, a relatively large beak (9% ML) and medium to large mature eggs (3.5 to > 9 mm). The characteristics of hatchlings of two brooding females, some of their anatomical features, and in situ observations of their behavior are a clue to the life history of it and closely related pygmy octopuses. The Bayesian phylogenetic analysis showed that Paroctopus cthulu sp. nov. is grouped in a well-supported clade of Paroctopus Naef, 1923 species, clearly distinct from Octopus joubini Robson, 1929 and Paroctopus mercatoris (Adam, 1937) from the Northwestern Atlantic. The description of this new species, living in habitat altered by humans, debris in shallow water off Brazil, offered an opportunity not only to evaluate the relationship among the small octopuses of the western Atlantic, Caribbean and eastern Pacific, but also their adaptation to the Anthropocene period.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is dedicated to Dr Eric Hochberg who encouraged one of us (TL) to study the pygmy octopus fauna of Brazil deeper, and for his valuable contribution and comments during my first visit at BMNH, and also Vanessa Delnavaz, who welcome us during our second visit to the SBMNH; Dr Michael Vecchione and Dr Jon Ablett for their welcome for TL at the Smithsonian Museum and Natural History Museum London respectively. We are thankful to Prof. Dr. Cristiano Albuquerque and Maria da Conceição Leite Spencer for help in measurement of specimens and counting endless octopus’ suckers during the museum’s visits, to Letícia Cavole for drawing our holotype and others biological structures, to the reviewers for their important suggestions and comments, to Abudefduf Atividades Subaquáticas and Juliana Valverde for field support in Ilha Grande, and to Ed Bastos for photos and information about the specimens found in the BG500 project.

Funding

This study was funded by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Grants CNPq 481492/2013–9 and CAPES/Ciências do Mar II 2203/2014–01; 23038004807/2014–1). For financial support EAGV, SMQL, MH are research fellows from Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Grants 312331/2018–1, and 313644/2018–7, 307994/2020–respectively).

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Correspondence to Tatiana S. Leite.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval

International and national guidelines for the care and use of cephalopods were followed by the authors.

Sampling and field studies

All necessary permits for sampling and observational field studies have been obtained by the authors from the appropriate authorities (Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, ICMBio: License number 304841).

Data availability

The sequences generated and analyzed during the current study were submitted to GenBank repository. GenBank accession numbers are provided in the text.

Authors’ contributions

TL and MH conceived the ideas; TL, MH, SM and FL designed the methodology and analyzed the data; TL SM, FL, RD and GG collected the data and described the habitat and living behaviors; TL, MH, DV described the species morphologically and worked on figures and drawings; FL and SL, provided molecular data and analyses; EV analyzed eggs and hatchlings data, described the early life stages and prepared their drawings; JM participated in forming ideas, writing and reviewed all manuscript components. All authors contributed to writing of the drafts and final manuscript submitted for publication.

Additional information

Communicated by M. Vecchione

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Leite, T.S., Vidal, E.A.G., Lima, F.D. et al. A new species of pygmy Paroctopus Naef, 1923 (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae): the smallest southwestern Atlantic octopod, found in sea debris. Mar. Biodivers. 51, 68 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-021-01201-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-021-01201-z

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Marine debris
  • Octopus
  • Integrative taxonomy
  • Phylogeny
  • Brazilian coast