New species of squid discovered in Okinawa named after Nobel Laureate and OIST founder Sydney Brenner

New species of squid discovered in Okinawa named after Nobel Laureate and OIST founder Sydney Brenner

December 12, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

New species continue to be discovered in the ocean around Okinawa.

The sea anemone that has been raised for many years at Churaumi Aquarium was confirmed to be a new species.

A research team that includes members from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have discovered a new species of squid, once again affirming the rich biodiversity of Okinawa’s oceans.

The research team, which comprises researchers from OIST and Australia were identifying the new species in the ocean around Okinawa, and the finding was printed in the December 11 issue of the academic journal Communications Biology.

The squid was named the Euprymna brenneri after Dr. Sydney Brenner, one of OIST’s founders and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The Euprymna brenneri is a new species of bobtail squid, often nicknamed a “dumpling squid,” and measures about three centimeters in length.

The research team collected and analyzed living samples and eggs from the shallow waters near of Ishigaki Island, Kume Island, Miyagi Island in Uruma City, the Seragaki neighborhood of Onna, and Oura Bay in Nago.

Its specification as a new species is based on a unique characteristic wherein the suckers on the outside of its tentacles are larger than the others, and an exhaustive transcriptome analysis found differences in the DNA.

Dr. Brenner, who was a molecular geneticist and once quoted saying, “Cephalopods were the first intelligent animals on the planet,” was responsible for many of the researchers’ interest in cephalopods.

Daniel Rokshar, head of the OIST Molecular Genetics Unit and former student of Dr. Brenner, said, “It is an honor 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.”

The results of the study is expected to provide a foothold into understanding the genetics, behavior, and origins of bobtail squids.

Hiroshima University Assistant Professor Gustavo Sanchez, the lead author of the study who had previously been at OIST, said, “We are compelled to explore why there is such a wide variety of species off the coast of Okinawa.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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