Many members of the benthic fauna of the Antarctic continental shelf share close phylogenetic relationships to the deep-sea fauna adjacent to Antarctica and in other ocean basins. It has been suggested that connections between the Southern Ocean and the deep sea have been facilitated by the presence of a deep Antarctic continental shelf coupled with submerging Antarctic bottom water and emerging circumpolar deep water. These conditions may have allowed 'polar submergence', whereby shallow Southern Ocean fauna have colonised the deep sea and 'polar emergence', whereby deep-sea fauna colonised the shallow Southern Ocean. A recent molecular study showed that a lineage of deep-sea and Southern Ocean octopuses with a uniserial sucker arrangement on their arms appear to have arisen via polar submergence. A distantly related clade of octopuses with a biserial sucker arrangement on their arms (historically placed in the genus Benthoctopus) is also present in the deepsea basins of the world and the Southern Ocean. To date their evolutionary history has not been examined. The present study investigated the origins of this group using 3133 base pairs (bp) of nucleotide data from five mitochondrial genes (12S rRNA, 16S rRNA, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I. cytochrome c oxidase subunit III, cytochrome b) and the nuclear gene rhodopsin from at least 18 species (and 7 outgroup taxa). Bayesian relaxed clock analyses showed that Benthoctopus species with a high-latitude distribution in the Southern Hemisphere represent a paraphyletic group comprised of three independent clades. The results suggest that the Benthoctopus clade originated in relatively shallow Northern Hemisphere waters. Benthoctopus species distributed in the Southern Ocean are representative of polar emergence and occur at shallower depths than non-polar Benthoctopus species
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