If, when playing the popular video game Pac-Man, you keep an anxious eye out for the ghost that might take your life away, you definitely will not want to lose sight of this Pac-Man ghost look-a-like not from dread but because it is such an eye candy.
Who would think that out of the deepest, bluest waters of the sea, a cute little pink octopus could spring out?
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), postdoctoral researcher Stephanie Bush tells Science Friday that she is thinking about naming the octopus Opisthotheusis Adorabilis, very much indicative of its physical features.
With its big eyes and gelatinous pink body, this flapjack octopus inspired the creation of the charcter Pearl from the Pixar animation Finding Nemo. The octopus has a diameter of about seven inches. It has webbed tentacles that form an umbrella shape. It swims in dimly lit water looking like a parachute.
Scientists at the MBARI recreated the flapjack's natural habitat, making sure to keep it at a very low temperature. In the replica of the creature's natural environment, one of the octopuses also left eggs. It could take up to three years for these eggs to hatch.
"They'll spread that web and parachute along and steer themselves with the fins on their mantle," said Bush.
The species Opisthotheusis has been collected from the deep sea along the California coast, as early as the 1990s. For the Pac-Man ghost look-a-like, an earlier suggested name was Opisthotheusis Californiana, a name that is also sometimes used to refer to it.
"You're looking at specific morphological features of this species that differentiate from other species," said Bush.
"What I do when I'm taking one of these preserved animals is actually dissect out the digestive system, starting from the beak and down to the stomach and out the other side. And then you do the same thing with the reproductive system," she further explained.
The process of naming a newly discovered creature is long and complex, normally taking several years to complete.
"It involves publishing papers, collecting specimens and distributing them to museums around the country," said MBARI spokesperson Kim Fulton-Bennett.