An octopus typically has eight legs, as its name suggests. However, a rare octopus was discovered in Japan, one with nine legs.
It is reported that a fisherman was making his dinner when they discovered the creature boiling in the pot had nine legs. The incidence is from Shizugawa Bay in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture. Since the discovery, scientists have claimed the extra leg could be an anomaly generated when the octopus was trying to regrow a lost limb. It was too late to save the octopus, but it has been made a display feature at Shizugawa Nature Center for the public to view.
The reddish creature is a just over 15 centimetres; a little longer than the small sized ruler found in a student’s stationery collection. Kazuya Sato, who cultivates wakame seaweed in the town, found the octopus among four others caught in his trap. He gave the catch to his mother, who started boiling it for dinner. Japan and other coastal countries usually have a high consumption of these sea creatures.
A researcher from Minamisanriku Nature Center told the Japanese news outlet Mainichi that this is a phenomenon demonstrating the diversity of nature. “I hope it becomes an opportunity for people to learn about the abundant mysteries of the ocean,” he said.
Octopuses are cephalopods with a rare ability to regenerate. Which means they can simply regrow a part which they lose, an amputated limb for example. The re-growing process must have resulted in this mutated limb-count.
Earlier, another rare octopus was observed on an island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. This one only had 7 legs. The local wildlife groups identified it as a male Haliphron atlanticus, a species that actually has 8 limbs but one remains hidden and only comes out during mating season. The hidden arm is carefully tucked under a sac near its eye. It helps in fertilizing females. Researchers claim which is why it’s often wrongly claimed as a “seven-legged octopus.”