Antarctic trek reveals new octopus species

Researchers working in Antarctica in 2007 discovered four new species of octopus with venom that works at sub-zero temperatures, according to Reuters.

The discovery, made during a six-week expedition to Antarctica three years ago, may translate into medical uses, according to one of the researchers, Bryan Fry, of the University of Melbourne.

The study, conducted by an international team of researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Norwegian University of Technology and Science and the University of Hamburg, provides the first insight into the properties of Antarctic octopus venom, according to ScienceDaily.

While it has been long known there were octopuses in Antarctica, what amazed the researchers was the sheer biodiversity and how natural selection changed the way they hunted and the nature of their venom.

“The octopuses would drill small holes in large, shelled prey, through which they inject their toxic saliva,” Reuters reported.

There was a great diversity of species, ranging from octopuses that were two inches long to giant ones, Fry said.

“Evolutionary selection pressures slowly changed their venom, which allowed them to spread into colder and colder waters and eventually spread into super-cold waters,” Fry said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

3 thoughts on “Antarctic trek reveals new octopus species

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