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An unusual octopus is surprisingly social; DNA from ivory may help track poachers

An unusual octopus is surprisingly social

The larger Pacific striped octopus is, despite its name, no bigger than a tangerine. And it has long managed to keep a low profile in the coastal waters off the eastern Pacific.

Roy Caldwell, a researcher of invertebrate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and his team obtained 24 of these octopuses from private collectors in Nicaragua and published their research in the journal PLOS One.

The species is indeed unusual. While other octopuses mate by mounting, the larger Pacific striped octopus engages in “beak to beak” mating; the beaks are on the underside of their bodies. Females of the species have also been found to brood over their eggs up to six months, far longer than other species of octopus do.

They also appear to be surprisingly social. The octopuses were placed in groups of eight in large tanks. None of them killed any tankmates (octopuses are no strangers to cannibalism), and they seemed to get along.

The larger Pacific striped octopus also uses a “slow bounce” to hunt. With its body flattened, and dorsal arms reaching forward, the octopus glides with sporadic bursts of hopping movements before it snatches up its prey of choice – usually shrimp.

DNA from ivory may help track poachers

DNA evidence retrieved from elephant dung, tissue and hair can help identify the origins of illegal ivory, a new study finds. Researchers at the University of Washington and Interpol developed a method to extract DNA from samples of ivory, and compared the gene sequences with those obtained from dung and tissue samples.

More than 85 percent of the forest elephant ivory seized between 2006 and 2014 came from elephants in northeast Gabon, the northwest of the Republic of Congo, southeast Cameroon and an adjacent reserve in the southwest of the Central African Republic.

The researchers found that more than 85 percent of the savanna elephant ivory seized between 2006 and 2014 came from elephants in East Africa. The findings could help target poachers: About 50,000 African elephants are killed each year, and the animals are at risk of extinction.

– New York Times