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Wunderpus photogenicus

The wonderpus octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus) is a species of octopus in the monotypic genus Wunderpus. It is found in shallow waters from Bali and Sulawesi north to the Philippines and east to Vanuatu.[1] W. photogenicus is a long-armed species characterised by "small eyes on elongate stalks, a long, conical papilla over each eye and a dramatic and fixed colour pattern of white bars and spots over a brown-red background."[1]


W. photogenicus is often confused with the similarly coloured mimic octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus. Both T. mimicus and W. photogenicus can have variable activity patterns; however, T. mimicus is most often diurnal, while Wunderpus tends to emerge very slowly from dens in the sand at dusk and dawn and is a crepuscular hunter.

Close up of W. photogenicus, showing its distinctive colour patterns

Wunderpus photogenicus has well-defined white spots on the mantle, and bars on the arms. They lack a white border at the base of the suckers. These are some of the traits that distinguish it from T. mimicus, which has poorly defined dark and white markings on the mantle, and a bright white line along the base of the suckers.

The white spots of Wunderpus are unique among individuals, allowing for the use of photo identification to monitor individuals in the wild.[2]

Wunderpus hatchlings can be identified by their unique 'founder chromatophore' patterns.[3]

Configuration of white markings on the dorsal mantle of five individual Wunderpus photogenicus[2]


  1. ^ a b Hochberg, F.G., M.D. Norman & J. Finn 2006. Wunderpus photogenicus n. gen. and sp., a new octopus from the shallow waters of the Indo-Malayan Archipelago (Cephalopoda: Octopodidae). PDF (805 KiB) Molluscan Research 26(3): 128–140. ISSN 1323-5818
  2. ^ a b Huffard CL, Caldwell RL, DeLoach N, Gentry DW, Humann P, B. MacDonald, B. Moore, R. Ross, T. Uno, S. Wong. 2008. Individually Unique Body Color Patterns in Octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus) Allow for Photoidentification. PLoS ONE 3(11): e3732. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003732
  3. ^ Huffard CL, Gentry B, Gentry D, 2009. Description of the paralarvae of Wunderpus photogenicus. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 57(1): 109-112.


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