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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Nineteen

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 20 February 2012

Scary MonkeyTomorrow is pancake day- hoorah!! I have grand plans of marmite pancakes for my starter, chilli con carne pancakes for my main course, and golden syrup and chocolate pancakes for pudding. Maybe I’ll have a cheese pancake course too? Mmmmm. Whilst salivating over tomorrow’s dinner I decided it only appropriate to choose a seasonally relevant specimen for the blog. This week’s specimen of the week is:


**!!!The Japanese Pancake Devil Fish!!!**


1) The menacingly named Japanese pancake devil fish is actually not a fish. Making it both menacing and a con artist, and thus clearly the villain of any marine action thriller. It is in fact, a type of octopus that has the tendency to flatten itself… like a pancake.


2) The males and females can be differentiated based on the number of suckers on each of the arms. The males have far fewer than the females which can have over 50.


A male Japanese pancake devil fish

A male Japanese pancake devil fish (Opisthoteuthis depressa). LDUCZ-R111

3) In another conspiracy to confuse, the Japanese pancake devil fish is not solely found in Japan. They also inhabit the waters off the coastline of California. Which, I grant you, is not far from Japan (if you’re an octopus), but an inappropriate name nevertheless I would suggest.


4) The origin of the word pancake does not come from the pancake devil fish, no no. It in fact originates from a cake-like dish made of eggs, milk, and flour, that is cooked in a pan.


5) Japanese pancake devil fish live waaaaaaaaaaaaay deep down in the sea, normally between 130 – 1100 m with the other weird and scary creatures like the one on Finding Nemo.


This pancake day, either before or after your own delicious golden syrup filled feast, come and see a real pancake in the flesh!

4 Responses to “Specimen of the Week: Week Nineteen”

  • 1
    Dominic wrote on 20 February 2012:

    What is the species name pretty please?!
    Marmite? – YEUCHHH!

  • 2
    Emma-Louise Nicholls wrote on 20 February 2012:

    It is Opisthoteuthis depressa… ‘depressa’ being the Latin reference to ‘pancake’ I suppose?!

    Marmite rocks! Though I will admit the Australian version (vegemite) is better on the basis it doesn’t make your tongue go fuzzy when you dip your finger in the jar too many times.

  • 3
    Dominic wrote on 20 February 2012:

    Thanks! I found the original description from 1895 –
    & you really should send this to – or tweet it at PZ Myers!

  • 4
    Emma-Louise Nicholls wrote on 21 February 2012:

    Ooooo that’s fantastic, thank you. Info is really sparse on this species so that’s a great find- thanks!

    I’m sure Paul would be very excited by the Japanese pancake devil fish, who wouldn’t be? 😀

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