So many organisms encompass the Domain: Eukarya.  Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsDomain-Eurkarya
What defines an organism of the domain Eukarya?  It’s really rather simple.  The members of the domain Eukarya must have cells which MUST contain a nucleus and other organelles bound inside of a membranous structure.  The Wunderpus photogenicus easily fits into this with its membranous cells (Tree 2014).
Organisms of the kingdom, Animalia, are multicellular and eukaryotic.  Other distinguishing features of organisms of the Animalia kingdom include being heterotrophic, or needing to consume other organisms for energy, as well as being motile.  Again this is a very broad generalization that encompasses the WunderpusWunderpus is both heterotrophic and motile with its tentancles (Tree 2014).

Phylum – Mollusca
Organisms of the phylum, Mollusca, are defined by three characterizing features.  The first feature is the inclusion of a mantle.  The mantle of a mollusk forms a sort of wall around the body to keep contained the organism’s organs.  The second feature that characterizes a mollusk is having radula.  The radula of a mollusk is the part of their body for eating.  The final feature of a mollusk is the development of a nervous system.  The Wunderpus continues to fit this description with its mantle being its bulbous head that carries its organs, the radula situated at the base of the mantle for eating and its own nervous system. This phylum also includes organism like Pomatiopsis lapidaria (Tree 2014).

Mollusca phylogenetic tree adapted from tree created by the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Figure 1. Evolutionary tree depicting the phylum Mollusca's evolution to its various classes. Wunderpus photogenicus belongs to the class Cephalopoda, which is most closetly related to the class Scaphopoda.

Class – Cephalopoda
For an organism to be classified into the class, Cephalopoda, they must first and foremost be a marine organism.  Other distinguishing characteriscs of cephalopods include having bilateral symmetry, or essentially if you were to cut the animal in half it would be identical on both sides.  A cephalopod will also have a noticeable head and not to mention one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the arms or “tentacles.”  Now at this point we are starting to move toward a more specific organism that the Wunderpus continues to resemble.  It lives in the Indian Ocean and has bilateral symmetry.  It's head is very noticable and it has those unique tentacles (Tree 2014).

Order – Octopoda
Moving now to the order of Octopoda, these organisms are classified by their distinct eight tentacles with “suckers.”  Members of the order Octopoda also have no shell, unlike many other orders branching from Cephalopoda.  The suborders of Octopoda, Cirrata and and Incirrata, are distinguished by a pairing of fins on the mantle of the Cirrata whereas the Incirrata are unfinned.   Octopus Vulgaris, probably the most common of the family Octopodidae.  Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsWith its eight tentacles and suckers on each tentacle the Wunderpus photogenicus continues its path along this taxonomic classification (Tree 2014).

Family – Octopodidae
Branching from Octopoda is the family, Octopodidae.  What makes the Octopodidae unique is the alignment of suckers on each tentacle.  They tend to run in either a single or double row.  In the males of this family one of their arms has evolved into a “sperm groove” for depositing sperm into the female of the species.  This family also has the inclusion of a beak and teeth!  The most well known of this family would be the common octopus or Octopus vulgaris plus not to mention our very own Wunderpus whose suckers run in a double row(Tree 2014).

 Octopodidae phylogenetic tree dapted from Dr. Christine Huffard's phylogenetic tree.

Figure 2. Evolutionary tree depicting the family Octopodidae's evolution towards Genus and Species, including Wunderpus photogenicus. Wunderpus photogenicus is most closely related to Thamoctopus mimicus.

Genus – Wunderpus
Currently the Wunderpus photogenicus is the only member of the genus, Wunderpus (Hochberg et al., 2006).

Species – Wunderpus photogenicus
We can’t spoil all the fun for you here!  You came to this website to learn more about this marvelous creature.  What I can tell you is that Wunderpus translates to 'wonderful or marvelous foot' and photogenicus refers to the high demand of photographs people desire of this beautiful creature (Hochberg et al., 2006). Now that you have the basis for what defines this organism, it is time for you to explore this website and learn as much as you can!

Go to the next page to learn about Habitat.

Go back to the Home page.