Ingenuity of Nature: The Mimic Octopus

For as long as I could remember, the octopus has always been one of my favorite animals. It’s strange, alien-like appearance, remarkable intelligence, and all-around coolness – such as changing shape and color – has given it a special place in my imagination to this day. And just when I thought this fascinating mollusk couldn’t be anymore interesting, I stumbled upon this species:

Thaumoctopus mimicus, the Indonesian Mimic Octopus

Aside from its neat pattern, this barely two feet critter – discovered in 1998 off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia – doesn’t look like much. But this little guy has the remarkable ability to impersonate no less than fifteen different species, including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp.

Though many octopuses – yes, that’s the correct plural form – can change color and texture to blend in with their surroundings, the Mimic is the first of it’s kind capable of capturing the physical likeness and movements of other animals. It does so by manipulating it’s arms and body into various shapes while changing color.

As if that weren’t ingenious enough, the Mimic is so intelligent that it can actually determine which creature to impersonate based on the circumstances. So when confronted by a particular predator, it will know which dangerous sea creature will be most effective in scaring off, and take it’s form accordingly. You can see a small but fascinating sample of this here, courtesy of the BBC:

You can read more about it here, including how to take care of one (apparently, people can and do keep them as pets, though I’m not so sure if that’s ecologically sustainable). Needless to say, the beauty and creativity of nature never ceases to amaze me. I can’t wait to come across more fascinating animals like this one.

2 comments on “Ingenuity of Nature: The Mimic Octopus

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