There is something very special about cephalopod young for me. Technically cephalopod young are called “paralarva” and not “larva” as there is no metamorphosis in the young stages as there is with true larval life cycle organisms such as sea urchins, mollusks, butterflies, etc. Cephalopod embryos follow direct development and hatch essentially as miniature adults, ready to scavenge or hunt for food. However many species of cephalopod young do have significant differences in the proportions of their body parts and may lack some of the specialized structures of the adult forms. Many species also differ ecologically from the adult forms. Because of these morphological and ecological differences the young of cephalopods are usually termed “paralarva”.
This little one is the paralarva of Octopus defilippi or Atlantic longarm octopus, (sometimes also listed as Lilliput longarm octopus) originally described in 1851 by the great cephalopod (well all molluscs actually) naturalist Jean Baptiste Vérany.
One of my favorite things about the species (adults at least) is their mimicry behavior such as this video (also below) from the Hanlon lab at MBL taken by one of our former lab mates, Anya Watson. In the video O. defilippi takes the color and shape of a peacock flounder as disguise to travel across open bottom. Jax Shells also has some great photos of O. defilippi in a couple different color and texture patterns.
- Octopus defilippi