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A deep-sea octopus (Graneledone cf. boreopacifica) as a shell-crushing hydrothermal vent predator

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2000

Janet R. Voight
Department of Zoology, Field Museum of Natural History; Roosevelt Rd. at Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60605. U.S.A. E-mail:
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The gut contents of a female specimen of Graneledone cf. boreopacifica collected from the caldera wall of Axial Volcano, near an active hydrothermal vent in the Northeast Pacific Ocean are reported. At least 30 individual gastropods and 46 individual polychaetes are represented in the gut contents by hard parts. Shell fragments and shells removed from the gut allow ready identification of the gastropods Provanna variabilis and Lepetodrilus fucensis, both of which are known only from North Pacific hydrothermal vents. Jaws of polychaete worms are identified as those of the nereidid, Nereis piscesae, and the predatory polynoids, Levensteiniella kincaidi and an unidentified species in the subfamily Branchinotogluminae. Not only was a considerable volume of prey hard parts ingested, the gastropod shells had been crushed before being ingested. The large size of the beaks in this genus of octopus and the increased area they offer for insertion of the superior mandible muscle, the prime mover in beak closure, support the hypothesis that these beaks exert sufficient force to crush the gastropod shells. Although cephalopods had been reported to be absent from hydrothermal vents, the data presented here demonstrate that not only do they occur in vent habitats, they actively prey on vent fauna.

Research Article
2000 The Zoological Society of London

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