General Description

Small, pygmy octopus. Body oval-shaped with pointed rear tip. Colour red-brown with white markings. Sides of body with two rows of regular, white, elongated papillae (flaps of skin), from which species gets its common name. Unbranched fingers of skin may be raised all over the body. A single finger of skin above each eye. Mantle length to 3 cm, total length to 9 cm.


There is very little known about this pygmy octopus as most specimens have been collected from shallow water trawls. As with other pygmy species, their small size allows them to live in habitats out of sight of humans, such as deep amongst the leaves and roots of seagrasses or seaweeds. The only record of a wild observation was a single animal camouflaged as a piece of red seaweed, hitching a ride on the back of a large shellfish, a Wavy Volute snail. It is assumed that they eat crustaceans like most other octopus species. Pygmy octopuses have probably evolved from the pressures to remain hidden. Octopuses make an excellent meal; they lack spines or armour and most lack poisons. Being small helps them to remain hidden from larger fish predators. Some pygmy octopuses spend most of their lives hidden in the roots of kelps or small coral heads, feeding on the many small crustaceans and fish that also seek shelter in these refuges. Natural selection would favour octopuses that mature at smaller sizes so that they can reproduce without being forced out of their safe havens. Some pygmy species are adult at the size of a fingernail, weighing less than a gram. Little is known of reproduction in this species. Females produce large eggs that would hatch into bottom-living young.


South-eastern Australia.


Sand or mud substrates, often in seagrass beds or sponge gardens, to a depth of at least 69 m.

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