Bobtail Squid discovered in Japan by Australian Museum scientists and international collaborators.

Euprymna brenneri, Bobtail Squid
Euprymna brenneri © Jeff Jolly, co-author of the study Image: Jeff Jolly
© Jeff Jolly

Sydney, 19 March, 2020. A newly described Bobtail squid, discovered by a team of international collaborators including Dr Mandy Reid from the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), is one of the top ten new marine species for 2019, announced today by the World Register of Marine Species (WORMS).

Described in Communications Biology – Nature, the new Bobtail species is named Euprymna brenneri (Brenners Bobtail) in honour of the pioneering geneticist and Nobel Laureate, the late Professor Sydney Brenner.

Co-author of the study, Australian Museum Malacology Collection Manager, Dr Mandy Reid said Brenners Bobtail (found in waters surrounding Okinawa Islands, Japan) packs a punch despite its size.

Euprymna brenneri was identified as a new species on the basis of its unique morphology and molecular signature. It differs from all other species in the genus because the females have enlarged arm suckers - a trait usually seen only in males.” Reid said.

The discovery was made after researchers collected three different types of bobtail egg clutches and two types of adults in the shallow waters around the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea.

The eggs were hatched and reared in the laboratory and the DNA (cytochrome oxidase and transcriptome sequences) of two of the three types of hatchlings matched that of two of the adult animals that were collected at the same time.

“One egg mass lacked a corresponding adult, but its DNA appeared to be distantly related to a species found in Australia and East Timor, Euprymna pardalota,” explained Reid, who had previously identified this species from Australia.

Bobtail squid (order Sepiolida) are small cephalopods found in shallow coastal waters of the Indo-west Pacific, the east Atlantic coast, and the Mediterranean Sea.

More closely related to cuttlefish, Bobtails can be raised in the laboratory making them useful models for studying cephalopod development, genetics and behaviour. Here, scientists have observed advanced behaviours like associative learning and inherited personality and fitness traits.

“These creatures are lauded for their complex nervous systems and intricate behaviour – but we still know relatively little about them.” Reid said.

Molecular geneticist Gustavo Sanchez, lead author of the study and based at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), said their research strives to understand how these animals’ complicated brains work.

“We’re also compelled to explore why there is such a wide variety of species off the coast of Okinawa,” Sanchez added.

Professor Sydney Brenner, former president and one of the founders of OIST, once described cephalopods as, ‘the first intelligent animals on the planet’.

Daniel Rokhsar, head of the Molecular Genetics Unit at OIST said Professor Brenner was a mentor and a friend.

“It is an honour to name this new species after him as a small reminder of his importance in creating the field of molecular biology, and more broadly his efforts to foster the development of science in Okinawa, Singapore, and around the world.” Rokhsar said.

Named in the top ten species for 2019, the common name for these marine animals, Bobtail,

comes from their characteristic rounded (bobbed) mantle.

“Bobtails have unique features from true squid, including their rounded or “bobbed” posteriors.” Reid commented.

"The discovery of this fascinating new species highlights how much more there is to learn about our oceans and our planet. Understanding what is happening to our marine biodiversity will not only benefit our oceans, but also our own health and wellbeing.” Reid added.

Further information;

Pint-sized perfect: ‘Brenner’s Bobtail’. Reid, M. (2020).

Video:New Squid Species – E. brenneri Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

Images: Please Credit Jeffery Jolly: