Mimicry is the Best Form of Flattery

images-7 mimic-narrow 170px-Mimic_Octopus_5 images-6 images-5 images-4 images-3When watching the video of the Mimic Octopus in class last week my mind was repeatedly blown. I kept asking myself, how could a creature become so intelligent to be able to physically transform itself into predatory creatures of the deep in order to not be hunted? I did some further research into this species and learned some pretty incredible stuff that I hope you all will enjoy as much as I did.

First, from what we all witnessed in the film, the Mimic Octopus can change the color and texture of its skin in order to ward off predators, that much is obvious. You might call it the chameleon of the sea! This specific species of Octopus derive from the Indo-Pacific that is made up of both the Pacific ocean as well as the Indian ocean and were discovered in 1998 off the coast of Sulawesi.

The level of intelligence of this species is unfathomable. The Mimic Octopus maneuvers peacefully through the water by using a jet of water through its funnel to hunt for its own prey. Yet when gliding across the ocean floor they roll with the motion of the tide so they will appear to be nothing more than a rock. They primarily feast on crabs, worms, and small fish and have an interesting way about hunting them down. Seems almost something us girls would do to a boyfriend if they cheated or what not. Get this: when hunting for say, a crab, the mimc octopus would mimic what their mate looks like then when close enough to its prey, it would devour it. Pretty clever huh?

Though mimicry is said to be the best form of flattery, I am not so sure if that would be the case if you were being hunted by such poisonous and scary sea creatures. The most common creatures that hunt the Mimic Octopus include: the lion fish, the sea snake, the flat fish, and the jellyfish.

However, that sounds kind of strange that a jellyfish would hunt an octopus for its meal right? I am not currently aware of a jellyfish’s diet but seeing as how they appear to be all tentacles and glop I can’t come to imagine one ingesting such a large creature. But with a little more research I came to learn that jellyfish are surprisingly carnivores. I had always been under the impression that they filter fed or ingested plankton like several species of small fish do (actually some further reading led me to understand all jellyfish do eat plankton but they consume larger creatures of the deep as well). So jumping over to the jellyfish for a moment, fun fact: they ensnare their pray with their tentacles either injecting them with venom or paralyzing them and then eat them. Once again my mind has been blown by the organisms that dwell in the unexplored waters.

Jumping back to the Mimic Octopus, it can mimic up to fifteen different species and is known as a carnivore, along side its enemy the jellyfish, due to the fact that is has never been recorded consuming vegetation.

I hope you all enjoyed learning a little bit more about that very funky Octopus!

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5 thoughts on “Mimicry is the Best Form of Flattery

  1. A very interesting post. I too found that the mimicry octopus’s movement through the water is very peaceful, gliding across with grace. What really impresses me with the octopus is that fact that not only does it have the ability to change its form to mimic another creature, but it goes further by mimicking its surface texture, color, and even has the knowledge to mimic what their mate looks like.

    This further proves that we’ve barely scratched the surface of understanding the nature around us, and we have so much to learn from them. If we can learn from this mimicking technology, we can perhaps even make products such as shapeshifting clothing. Creatures with such unique abilities, it’s hard not to agree with people that say nature is the best source for inspiration.

  2. I find this creature to be mind-blowing as well. I’ve always wondered how their wide spectrum of camouflage capabilities come to be, as in how did their body figure out how to develop dermal textures and pigmentation to blend in with the environment. If we were to litter the ocean floor with rainbow-colored cubes covered in clear protruding “YOLO” inscriptions, given enough time, can we make them turn into rainbow-colored cubes with “YOLO” all over them?

  3. This octopus is crazy. It’s like superman of mimicry world: it has too many powers. I think it’s so awesome how smart this eight legged guy is. To mimic even the texture and color of something is incredible.

    The information about jellyfish is interesting as well! I had the impression that their poison was for self defense only and always thought that jellyfish would eat much smaller organisms like plankton too. I guess just because it looks nice and bouncy doesn’t mean it’s not scary either.

  4. Man i gotta start off with I love these pictures, animal mimicry (especially sea animal mimicry) is one of the most interesting animal adeptation that i think has devoloped in the history of biology. It’s a strategy that can be used for both predatory and defense purposes and it keeps getting more interesting the more you dissect it.

    it’s a interesting case of fear and fascination that keeps us looking in to this thing. we always think as deception as being a more sentient thing to devolop. something that comes with higher levels of intelligence. but a creature as simple as a flounder or a crab can simple vanish in to thin air with enough stillness and algea.

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