Octopus Hummelincki (Octopus Filosus Howell, 1868) Adam 1936


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Sep 4, 2006
I have been trying to find official identifying descriptions for the hummelincki and have discovered that most of the research dates back to the 1950's or earlier (pre SCUBA). The descriptions are all based on dead animals (most killed in situ to extract them) with preservation artifacts or non-display of critical information disagreement of itentifying traits of a live animal. Of particular note is the wide discrepency of the ocelli (all confirm there is one) and sizes. In the case of the third listing, the ocelli description is for bimac and NOT hummelincki (all other references do not mention a chain and personal observations from photos as well as live animals denies the existence of a chain).

Size also varies widely. The older journals describe pygmy sized adults but in at least one collection a much larger animal is described as an anomaly. Other large specimens are noted but the authors were convinced the species was the same. No suggestions were attempted as to why some hummelincki are significantly larger than the first described and greater numbers in the various collections.

The article copy in the next post specifically notes that the living animal barely resembles the preserved ones and would easily be considered a different species.

List of articles/journals located:

A Study of the Morphology and Biology of Octopus Hummelincki - article may be viewed without subscription

American Journal of Conchology, Volume 3, Description of Two New Species of Cephalopods Octopus Filosa Google books See page 240 for entered description

ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/ac479e/AC479E33.pdf (search hummelincki)

ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/009/y4160e/y4160e14.pdf (search hummelincki)

Notes on Cephalopods from the Caribbean abstract only.

Website: Marine Science Center - Field guide to marine inhabitants - Invertebrates This one was particularly amusing because of the final statement on the page.


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THE NAUTIUS Vol. 66 JANUARY, 1953 No. 3
Marine Laboratory, University of Miami

Adam (1937) described Octopus hummelincki from preserved specimens collected from the island of Bonaire, in the Dutch West Indies, and since that date several other papers have appeared describing in detail the morphology of this species. In none of these papers, however, are there any observations or comments upon living specimens. On July 26, 1952 a specimen of this species was collected by Donald R. Moore at Long Reef in the Florida Keys while on a class collecting trip with the author. In view of the rather unusual characters displayed by this specimen it was considered that these observations should be added to the literature along with the author's conclusions.

The specimen, a male with a mantle length of 30 mm., was discovered at the entrance to a hole beneath a slab of coral in about three feet of water. Immediately upon capture he was handed to the author who had an opportunity to observe closely his sculpture, coloration, movements and habitat.
The sculpture, when living, is so different from that of the preserved animal that it would scarcely be recognizable as the same species. Outstretched in the palm of the author's hand each individual cirrus, amounting to about 50 or 60 in number, was fully distended into a wide, flat blade or band about 8 to 10 mm. in length ending distally in an arborescent crest. The eyes were raised boldly above the head and accentuated by the prominent supraocular cirri. The arms, when at rest, were held curled back over themselves with the sucker discs fully distended, adding to the irregular outline of the body. In general the entire surface is very rugose, especially on the dorsal portion of the body and arms. When swimming the cirri disappear, the rugosity of the skin itself smooths out, the arms point forward and adhere tightly together and the whole body is streamlined. Although the funnel is of normal size, this species appears to be a very active swimmer, much more so than the other oetopi such as 0. vulgaris and 0. briareus.

The color and color patterns seem to be rather distinctive although coloration is so variable in the octopods that in general it is not used as a diagnostic character. At rest or crawling the basic color was a rich reddish yellow-brown upon which were superimposed mottlings of light golden yellow. At intervals this pattern changed to a lighter brown with granular mottlings of grayish white. When swimming the mottlings disappeared and the color was a uniform light brown.

In the water, which was stirred by wave action, the animal appeared to be covered by a dense growth of marine algae waving with the motion of the water. This effect was heightened by the reef being completely covered with a heavy growth of attached Sargassum or Gulf weed and scattered clumps of Dictyota having the same general color and appearance of the cirri. Unfortunately the field data of the other specimens of this species now in the literature fail to give any mention of the prevailing algal growth. However, both Sargassum and Dictyota are commonly found on old coral reef formations in Florida and the West Indies and it would be interesting to know if it were prevalent in the collecting areas from which this species has been taken. A small collection of eight specimens of 0. hummelincki from Cay Sal Bank were taken from reefs having dense algal growth and a single specimen from Bimini, Bahamas, also was found surrounded by Sargassum. The striking coloration and general appearance of this species of octopus closely resembles that of the well-known Sargassum fish Histrio histrio as was noted by all of the observers present.

It is the opinion of the author that 0. hummelincki is re-
stricted to those reefs of coral origin now overgrown with Sargassum, Dictyota, and other genera of the brown algae and is peculiarly adapted among the octopoda to this floral habitat, similar to the close associations found in the drifting Sargassum complex, a field of study of great interest to marine biologists due to the adaptations found within it. The first color pattern noted corresponds in a striking degree to the colors exhibited by the surrounding algae and the granular grayish-white mottlings of the second phase imitated the white calcareous sedimentation found in small areas throughout the reef.

The specimen when preserved in 5 percent formalin immediately contracted the cirri into minute, filiform structures hardly noticeable except over the eyes, and the body changed in color to a mottled reddish-brown. In every way the specimen, preserved, resembled the other specimens described in the literature or in the possession of the author.

A few remarks on the ocellus of this species seems pertinent. Adam, Rees and Pickford variously described the ocellus of the specimens examined by them as consisting of a somewhat circu lar patch of brown or dark slate gray separated from a dark reddish-brown, brown, or gray center by a thin pale, black, or dark ring. Voss (1949) described the ocellus of the only other known Florida specimen as "a grayish-black ring surrounding a dark gray disc." These descriptions are extremely confusing and, in the light of examinations, made by the author of about ten specimens from the Bahamas and Florida, are erroneous.

Actually the ocellus consists of a reddish-brown irregular splotch within which is a narrow to broad band forming a more or less circular ring which both in life and in freshly preserved
animals is colored a most intense purplish-blue. In life this
may fluctuate from a pale blue to the deep color mentioned, apparently at the will of the animal. Specimens more than two years in preservative still retain this color. Any assumptions as to the use or value of this organ is dangerous, but the author cannot but point out that in an animal with such a high degree of mimicry it may well function as a means of recognition.


Adam, W. 1936. Notes sur les cephalopodes. VI. TJne nouvelle espece d 'octopus (Octopus hummelincki) des Indies Orientales

Neerlan daises. Bull. Mus. R. Hist. Nat. Belgique, 12: 1-3. 1937. Cephalopodes des lies Bonaire et Curacao.

Capita Zoologica, 8: 1-29. Rees, W. J. 1950. Notes on Cephalopoda from the Caribbean.

Proe. Malacolog. Soc. London, 28 (2, 3) : 9-114.

PiCKFORD, G. E. 1945. Le poulpe americain : A study of the littoral Octopoda of the western Atlantic. Trans. Conn. Acad. Arts Sci., 36: 701-811.

1946. A review of the littoral Octopoda from central and western Atlantic stations in the collections of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (11), 13: 412-429.

1950. The Octopoda of the Oxford University Cayman Expedition. Proc. Malacolog. Soc. London, 28 (4, 5) : 139- 144.

Voss, G. L. 1949. Notes on a specimen of Octopus hummelincki Adam from the Florida Keys. Rev. Soc. Malacologica,


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Sep 4, 2006
Names for Octopus hummelincki

hummelincki - 2006 hummelincki conserved
134 Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 63(2) June 2006 OPINION 2147 (Case 3263)
Octopus hummelincki Adam, 1936 (Mollusca, Cephalopoda): specific name conserved

The Commission has ruled that the specific name Octopus hummelincki
Adam, 1936 is conserved for a common small ocellate octopus from the Caribbean
and western Atlantic. The older name O. filosus Howell, 1868 was long regarded as
a synonym of O. vulgaris Cuvier, 1 797, but more recently has been synonymized with
O. hummelincki (rather than O. vulgaris). The name O. filosus has had very little usage and its name has been suppressed.

Keywords. Nomenclature; taxonomy; Cephalopoda; octopodidae; Octopus hum-
melincki; Octopus filosus.

(1) Under the plenary power it is hereby ruled that the na.mt filosus Howell, 1868,
as published in the binomen Octopus filosus, is suppressed for the purposes of
the Principle of Priority but not for those of the Principle of Homonymy.
(2) The name hummelincki Adam, 1936, as published in the binomen Octopus
hummelincki, is hereby placed on the Official List of Specific Names in
(3) The wdiVixQ filosus Howell, 1868, as published in the binomen Octopus filo.nis
and suppressed in (1) above, is hereby placed on the Official Index of Rejected
and Invahd Specific Names in Zoology.
History of Case 3263
An application to conserve the specific name Octopus hummelincki Adam, 1936 for
a common small ocellate octopus from the Caribbean and western Atlantic was
received from Ian G. Gleadall (Tohoku Bunka Gakuen University, Sendai. Japan) on
6 January 2003. After correspondence the case was published in BZN 61: 19-22
(March 2004). The title, abstract and'keywords of the case were published on the
Commission's website. No comments on this case were received.

Decision of the Commission
On 1 December 2005 the members of the Commission were invited to vote on the
proposals published in BZN 61: 21. At the close of the voting period on 1 March 2006
the votes were as follows:

Affirmative votes: - 16: Alonso-Zarazaga, Bock, Brothers, Calder, Fortey, Halli-
day, Lamas, Macpherson, Mahnert, Mawatari, Minelli, Nielsen, Papp, Rosenberg,
Stys and van Tol.

Negative vote: - 1: Patterson.
No votes were received from Bouchet, Kerzhner, Ng and Song.
Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 63(2) June 2006 135
Original references
The following are the original references to the names placed on an Official List and an Official Index by the ruling given in the present Opinion:
filosus, Octopus, Howell, 1868, American Journal of Conchology, 3: 240.
hummelincki. Octopus, Adam, 1936, Bulletin du Musee Royal d'Histoire Naturelle de Belgique, 12(40): 2.

filosus - Database version:1986 filosus reinstated hummelincki denied

Case 3263 Octopus hummelincki Adam, 1936 (Mollusca, Cephalopoda): proposed conservation of the specific name Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 61(1): 19-22 (2004) - Provides detail on the naming conflict and existing holotypes. Also mentions another animal o_Oculifer that looks very much like the larger version of O.hummelincki.

filosa - synonym

Seaweed Octopus - common name

Caribbean Two-Spot Octopus -common name

Bumble Bee Octopus - common name
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