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Dumbo-hires (cropped).jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Opisthoteuthidae
Genus: Grimpoteuthis
Robson, 1932
Type species
Grimpoteuthis umbellata
Fischer, 1884

15, see text

Grimpoteuthis[1] is a genus of pelagic umbrella octopuses known as the dumbo octopuses.[2] The name "dumbo" originates from their resemblance to the title character of Disney's 1941 film Dumbo, having a prominent ear-like fin which extends from the mantle above each eye. There are 15 species recognized in the genus.[3] Prey include crustaceans, bivalves, worms and copepods.[2] The average life span of various Grimpoteuthis species is 3 to 5 years.[citation needed]

Species and taxonomy[edit]

Species name Reference Geographic range Depth range (meters) Taxonomic notes
Grimpoteuthis abyssicola O'Shea, 1999[4][5] South Pacific (off New Zealand and Australia) 3145–3180
Grimpoteuthis bathynectes Voss & Pearcy, 1990[6][7] North Pacific (Tufts and Cascadia Abyssal Plains off Oregon) 3932
Grimpoteuthis boylei Collins, 2003[8][9] Northeast Atlantic (Porcupine and Madeira Abyssal Plains) 4845–4847
Grimpoteuthis challengeri Collins, 2003[8][10] Northeast Atlantic (Porcupine Abyssal Plain) 4828–4838
Grimpoteuthis discoveryi Collins, 2003[8][11] Northeast Atlantic 2600–4870
Grimpoteuthis hippocrepium Hoyle, 1905[12][13] East Pacific (off Malpelo Island) 3334 Previously assigned to genus Stauroteuthis; known from a single, "sadly mutilated" individual according to Hoyle[12]
Grimpoteuthis imperator Ziegler & Sagorny, 2021[14] Emperor Seamounts, North Pacific 3913-4417 Known from a single specimen.[14]
Grimpoteuthis innominata O'Shea, 1999[4][15] South Pacific (East of New Zealand) 2000 Alternatively classified as Enigmatiteuthis[4]
Grimpoteuthis meangensis Hoyle, 1885[16][17] West Pacific (off Meangis Islands, near Philippines) 925 Previously assigned to genera Cirroteuthis[16] and Stauroteuthis[12]
Grimpoteuthis megaptera Verrill, 1885[16][18] Northwest Atlantic (Southeast of Martha's Vineyard) 4600 Previously assigned to genus Cirroteuthis[16]
Grimpoteuthis pacifica Hoyle, 1885[16][19] South Pacific (off Papua New Guinea) 4500 Previously assigned to genus Cirroteuthis[16]
Grimpoteuthis plena Verrill, 1885[16][20] Northwest Atlantic 2000 Previously assigned to genus Cirroteuthis[16]
Grimpoteuthis tuftsi Voss & Pearcy, 1990[6][21] North Pacific (Tufts and Cascadia Abyssal Plains off Oregon) 3900
Grimpoteuthis umbellata P. Fischer, 1883[16][22] North Atlantic (off Morocco, Canary Islands, and the Azores) 2235 Previously assigned to genus Cirroteuthis[16]
Grimpoteuthis wuelkeri Grimpe, 1920[23][24] Northeast and Northwest Atlantic 2055

As noted above, many species collected on the Challenger expedition were initially classified in the genera Cirroteuthis and Stauroteuthis.[16][12] Several species formerly classified in this genus were moved to other opisthoteuthid genera.[citation needed] A new family, Grimpoteuthididae, has been proposed to accommodate these species and those of genus Enigmatiteuthis.[4][25] The persistent confusion and disparity about the taxonomy of these species has been attributed to the poor quality and limited number of specimens available for study.[25]

Range and habitat[edit]

Species of Grimpoteuthis are assumed to have a worldwide distribution, living in the cold, abyssal depths ranging from 1,000 to 7,000 metres. Specimens have been found off the coast of Oregon, the Philippines, Martha's Vineyard, the Azores, New Zealand, Australia, California, Gulf of Mexico, Papua, and New Guinea. Dumbo octopuses are among the deepest living octopuses known. In 2020, Grimpoteuthis was spotted 6,957 m deep in the Java Trench.[26]


Species of Grimpoteuthis face few direct threats from humans, living at depths of 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) and below. Natural predators include sharks and predatory cephalopods. The Grimpoteuthis does not have an ink sac. Instead they use their chromatophore cells to change colors, which helps them avoid predators.[27] Some color changes can be red, white, pink, or brown; or they can use color to camouflage themselves to blend in with the appearance of the ocean floor.[28] Grimpoteuthis feed on worms, crustaceans, shellfish, and copepods.[29]

Movement, characteristics and food supply[edit]

Specimens of Grimpoteuthis have been observed to swim by using movement of the fins.[30][31] Although it has been suggested that species of Grimpoteuthis are capable of jet-propulsion, this has since been deemed unlikely.[30] Movement of the arms can be used to help the animal move in any direction. The arms permit the animal to crawl along the seafloor, to capture prey, lay eggs, explore, etc.[32] Dumbos hover above the sea floor, searching for polychaete worms, pelagic copepods, isopods, amphipods, and other crustaceans for food.[33] Prey is captured by pouncing on the target, which then is swallowed whole.[34] In contrast to other octopuses, dumbo octopuses do not produce ink. This makes sense considering the fact that their habitat is a deep, dark place in the ocean. Instead of ink sacs, dumbo octopuses take advantage of a strand-like structure on their suckers to help light.[31]


Females have no distinct period for breeding. Females carry multiple eggs in various stages of maturation, suggesting that they have no optimal breeding period. Male octopuses have a separate protuberance on one of their arms that carries an encapsulated sperm packet to the female. After mating, the females can store the male’s sperm until the conditions are suitable to allow the reproduction process to begin. Once the female finds a suitable environment on the sea floor, they plant their eggs on a hard surface such as a rock and wait for the eggs to hatch. As with other octopuses, females do not invest any further time in the young after they hatch because once they are born they are able to defend themselves. In 2018, Shea et al. determined that Grimpoteuthis hatchlings emerge as "fully competent" juveniles with all of the sensory and motor features to survive on their own.[35] Females can be distinguished from males by body type. Females have a much more prevalent gelatinous body type with size being more width than length, having 1.5 to 2 times more short arms. Other differences include females having broadly U-shaped shells, larger eyes, and gills with six lamellae.[36]


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External links[edit]