Project 3721: A. Ziegler, C. Sagorny. 2021. Holistic description of new deep sea megafauna (Cephalopoda: Cirrata) using a minimally invasive approach. BMC Biology. 19:81.
Specimen: Grimpoteuthis imperator Ziegler & Sagorny, 2021 (ZMB/Moll:240160)
View: Oblique


Background: In zoology, species descriptions conventionally rely on invasive morphological techniques, frequently leading to damage of the specimens and thus only a partial understanding of their structural complexity. More recently, non-destructive imaging techniques have successfully been used to describe smaller fauna, but this approach has so far not been applied to identify or describe larger animal species. Here, we present a combination of entirely non-invasive as well as minimally invasive methods that permit taxonomic descriptions of large zoological specimens in a more comprehensive manner.
Results: Using the single available representative of an allegedly novel species of deep-sea cephalopod (Mollusca: Cephalopoda), digital photography, standardized external measurements, high-field magnetic resonance imaging, micro-computed tomography, and DNA barcoding were combined to gather all morphological and molecular characters relevant for a full species description. The results show that this specimen belongs to the cirrate octopod (Octopoda: Cirrata) genus Grimpoteuthis Robson, 1932. Based on the number of suckers, position of web nodules, cirrus length, presence of a radula, and various shell characters, the specimen is designated as the holotype of a new species of dumbo octopus, G. imperator sp. nov. The digital nature of the acquired data permits a seamless online deposition of raw as well as derived morphological and molecular datasets in publicly accessible repositories.
Conclusions: Using high-resolution, non-invasive imaging systems intended for the analysis of larger biological objects, all external as well as internal morphological character states relevant for the identification of a new megafaunal species were obtained. Potentially harmful effects on this unique deep-sea cephalopod specimen were avoided by scanning the fixed animal without admixture of a contrast agent. Additional support for the taxonomic placement of the new dumbo octopus species was obtained through DNA barcoding, further underlining the importance of combining morphological and molecular datasets for a holistic description of zoological specimens.

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Project DOI: 10.7934/P3721,
This project contains
  • 41 Media
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    Authors' Institutions

    • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universit├Ąt Bonn (University of Bonn)


    member name taxa specimens media media
    Alexander Ziegler
    Project Administrator
    Christina Sagorny
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    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project137
    Media downloads30M740074 (4 downloads); M740042 (3 downloads); M740050 (3 downloads); M740038 (4 downloads); M740075 (2 downloads); M740041 (2 downloads); M740047 (1 download); M740045 (3 downloads); M740053 (1 download); M740039 (2 downloads); M740071 (1 download); M740051 (1 download); M740076 (1 download); M740073 (1 download); M740077 (1 download);
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    Document downloads2Grimpoteuthis imperator organs (1 download); Grimpoteuthis imperator lower beak (1 download);