Monday, 12 September 2011

Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus)

I am sorry for the delay in the post but I got busy with other things. I will hopefully be able to get right back on the post wagon and start doing it weekly again.

This is one creature that you will have to see with your own eyes to believe, I don’t think I can explain it well enough for you to completely comprehend. This is basically the physical counterpart to the lyre bird, it can mimic more than fifteen different sea creatures to deceive, intimidate, scare and catch other sea creatures.

All octopi and squid can change their colour and texture; they can even change the shape to be more flat and spread out or bloated to seem bigger. All octopi have eight tentacles that have suckers with ‘teeth’ and a large balloon like body in the center of the tentacles. Octopi have two eyes, two membrane coverings for ears, a beak on the bottom for a mouth and tubes which push water and are used for jet propulsion to move around in water. All octopi can release ink to make a cloud so they can make a swift retreat for a last ditch effort to get away. That is basically what an octopus looks like, now what makes this octopus epic is its mimicry ability.

Mimicking a Mantis Shrimp
The mimic octopus can mimic over 15 other sea creatures for its own advantage. For example, it can change its colour and shape by burying some tentacles, putting two in the air and two on the sand, forming its body to look like a suitable mate for a crab. Once it has tricked the crab into coming close enough it will eat it - it puts me in mind of a cheesy horror film with shapeshifters. Another example: if another fish is pestering a mimic octopus or trying to eat it, then it will bury most of its self, stick out two tentacles, point them in opposite directions and change its colour to look a sea snake and scare the predator off.

Mimicking a Gulper Eel
What the mimic octopus imitates mostly depends on what predators and prey are in the surrounding waters. Some of the creatures it has been known to mimic include sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, seashells, stingrays, flounders, jellyfish, sea anemones, mantis shrimp, venomous sole and more. It is believed that some of the mimicry is done without ever seeing the creatures so the mimic octopus naturally knows how to mimic other creatures through genetic memory or maybe was taught to them from other mimic octopi, no one knows for sure. The mimic octopus would make a good impressionist that is for sure.

Mimicking a Jellyfish
This is enough of me explaining what it can do; you need to see it to truly understand. (Video below)

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