Scientists from NUI Galway have collaberated with colleagues from Liverpool University in the UK to find that the genes of Antarctic octopus’ could help bolster a theory that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could have collapsed during its history, possibly as recently as 200,000 years ago.
Adult Turquet’s octopuses tend to live in one place and only move to escape predators, leading scientists to believe that creatures from areas either side of Antarctica would be genetically different.
However the collaberative study found that the octopuses from Ross and Weddell Seas, which are now separated by the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, are genetically almost identical, suggesting that these two regions may have once been connected.
Dr Louise Allcock, from the National University of Ireland Galway, added: “A previous study has shown evidence that the Ross and Weddell Seas could have been connected. We wanted to investigate whether there was any genetic information that could tell us what the past environment could have been like, and this octopus species, with its large populations around the region and limited movements, was an ideal species to use.
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