In my opinion everything in nature is incredibly amazing. I've got a mosquito flying around me, for example. How in the world does it know that it
can get blood from my body? How does it know how to get blood from my body? How does it know how to fly? These are miraculous things that we just take
for granted. In my mind what the common mosquito can do is as amazing as what the mimic octopus does.
This is an impressive thread! I've enjoyed reading about and viewing all the additional sea life as well. I'm fascinated as to how the Mimic does
its thing - do we know what enables it to shape-shift?
Sometimes I think we miss out on some of the coolest, strangest, most "otherworldly" creatures in our own back yard, whilst we strain our eyes
outward to the stars, hoping to glimpse some other sign of life on Mars. It also reminds me of the incredible biodiversity hanging out on our little
world; how precious it is.
Thank you. I'll be dreaming of long sea spirals, walking frog fish and a shape-shifting octopus. I wonder how many times divers have passed that
beauty by, thinking it was something else? The average octopus is as intelligent and curious as a house cat. I wonder what level of intelligence the
Mimic has? Pretty amazing...
it was the same video also, even though it is gone now..
but always good to see this video..love it...
Again, I made the video myself by combining the two best clips of it. But thank you for pointing out that thread again, as previous posters have.
Unfortunately the vid in that OP seems to have vanished, but I would like to see that too.
Just watched the video again; watching this video makes me feel so un-evolved
edit on 26-9-2012 by ZeuZZ because: (no reason given)
This thread has lacked scientific explanations, so I did some digging and found another cool video too.
Apparently they are awful in captivity, they just don't do much. Maybe they have a limited amount of awareness that they are trapped and enclosed,
and for a species that specializes in hiding and fleeing predators, that would be a very unpleasant environment for them.
Here is a video of one in captivity that survived for three months. When first captured its natural color was dark blue, but due to the environment it
turned green within a day and it started to mimic the fluffy texture of the seaweed by the end too, to a small extent, it just started to look more
and more like some of the plant-life in the tank the longer it was forced to live with just that. Shortly before it died in the weeks befre, it
started to mimic. And what it started to mimic ... well that's subjective really, you decide. The only living moving creatures it was seeing for
three months were humans and the green plant-life in the tank, which it used as camouflage most of the time.
Walking on two legs and extending tentacles out to look like arms if you ask me Mimicing a human.
No one has ever been able to catch one for scientific study, from a 2011 paper on it:
"However, aside from the information reported by Hanlon et al. (1985) in the laboratory culture experiment, essentially nothing is known about the
biology of this species, especially under natural conditions."
It seems that while most of it's camouflaging abilities are common in some other species of octopi, the mimic can single handedly do the entire
repertoire. There are numerous camouflage and avoidance techniques that have been given scientific names.
I'll post this shortly, compile some research, and come back with some more info. Just found a way to 'work round' the wiley coding for full text
pdf 'member only' versions, so will finally be able to post some of the information on this creature this thread has so far lacked past
One is up in full anyway. In these pics are four huge 3-4 foot spanning mimics. The authors note as soon as movement was stopped they camouflaged as
best they could to try to make them not visible to the cameraman. Four specimen were studied. Here are the four stationary pictures of them laying on
top of the sand:
Pretty damn good if you ask me! Cant see one of them.
The mechanisms they seem to have evolved are:
Crypsis is the primary defense of shallow-water octopuses. However, immobility is a major requirement for background matching in most animals,
presenting a possible behavioral dilemma. Each move, whether to forage for food or to retreat from the vicinity of a predator, may compromise
camouflage and trigger the predator's search image, putting the animal at risk. Whereas locomotion and traditional camouflage are often conflicting
needs for many animals, some octopuses employ behaviors that may help circumvent this problem via polyphenism, which has been evident in mimic
In general, octopuses crawl by pushing and pulling themselves along the bottom using what appear to be irregular.
Whereas locomotion and traditional camouflage are often conflicting needs for many animals, some octopuses employ behaviors that may help circumvent
this problem. By performing frequent shape change ['polyphenism' as in Octopus cyanea (Hanlon et al., 1999)]
The ability as in Octopus cyanea, moving like unpalatable animals.
Moving rock mimicry
Moving while assuming the shape of inedible objects ['moving rock' of O. cyanea (Hanlon et al., 1999); during bipedal locomotion in Amphioctopus
marginatus and Abdopus aculeatus (Huffard et al., 2005)], octopuses may employ predator deception during locomotion.
Possible physiological explanation for the mimics superior abilities
These behaviours are neurally controlled rather than anatomically fixed. Thaumoctopus mimicus can regulate conspicuousness while imitating animals
(mobile and sessile) or inanimate objects, and frequently challenges the distinction between mimicry and crypsis (Endler, 1981; Hanlon et al., 2008).
By incorporating conspicuousness and possibly mimicry, rather than crypsis, into its primary defense, the ancestors of these octopuses experienced a
behavioral shift from a situation in which ‘the operator does not perceive the mimic and therefore makes no decision’, to one based on the
predator detecting the mimic and subsequently being deceived (Endler, 1981), or receiving honest warning.
Most animals are exposed to multiple predators, which may differ greatly in their sensory systems, means of prey detection and level of threat. Colour
changing organisms have the potential to rapidly change not only their behaviour but also their colour patterns, to different predators. The mimic
octopus Thaumoctopus mimicus, for example, can mimic an impressive repertoire of venomous animals, potentially adopting a different guise in response
to different types of predator (Norman et al. 2001).
Also I found the paper corresponding to that above picture:
The octopuses maintained a camouflaged body pattern while swimming as well as when stopped. As noted in Figures 1 and 2, the animals were a Uniform
Light or Stippled pattern that closely resembled the sand substrate. The color (light yellow/brown), pattern, and brightness matches to the sand were
excellent, as judged by the human eye viewing the octopuses in situ and from photographic color images. In between each swimming session, the octopus
stopped, often spread its arms, and became highly camouflaged. Figure 3 illustrates the high degree of camouflage of the flounder and the octopus when
motionless. The flounders have small ovoid skin components that are, in small fish, comparably sized to small sand and gravel in this habitat, and
thus they provide a close resemblance to the background.
The octopuses have far more control of their skin components and on this background produce a light, small-scale mottle skin pattern replete with
small papillae (see Allen et al., 2009) that further enhance the textured appearance of the skin (see close-up in Fig. 3D). Note the light/dark
recurring bars along the length of the arm in Figure 3D; this blends in well with the light and dark pebbles that constitute much of this “sandy”
substrate. When viewed from a distance (i.e. ca. 1 m, as in Fig. 3C), the octopus pattern appears as a Uniform Light body pattern that closely
resembles the background and produces the camouflage effect.
(A) Very small Bothus lunatus (directly in center of image) matching the brightness, color, and pattern of the sand.
(B) A larger B. lunatus (bottom center of image; ca. 23 cm total length) providing excellent general resemblance to the sand bottom.
(C) Macrotritopus defilippi in center of image, completely exposed yet well camouflaged.
(D) Close-up of the octopus in C; note the finely mottled body pattern, the dark bars on the arms, and the general difficulty of detecting the
I presume the exact match to the color is more complex than a pigment change using melanin and chromatophors like chameleons do, to change various
reflective plates in cells quickly via sudden release of the appropriate hormones, thus physiologically altering them via metachrosis. As not only can
they change whatever color they want to in a blink of an eye, they can also go completely transparent at will (telescope octopi is the master of that)
implying they can change in an instant their entire bodies translucency, reflectivity or opacity, and calibrate it exactly to their surroundings in
the correct direction of which ever threat they deem the most serious.
Or could they have worked out a perceptual bias of the human vision system and only use this technique when in contact with a human? They change their
shape and strategy totally differently for nearly 100 separate species (To scare catfish away they morph into an equally furry texture, but into a 5
foot tall PitBull morphology, and impersonate a snake hissing, cats hate that sound), would not be surprised if they noticed we have a temperamental
(without measuring accurately UV light exposure incident on a person Pineal Gland all the time during) and pretty weak hormone cycle
(melatonin/melanophore stimulating hormone, MSH) which can lead to extremely evident perceptual bias of the human vision system.
If we could get along better maybe we could ask them our brain melatonin/melanophore status in the future, to save us the time and equipment. Doubt it
would become easily visible for us to find, though.
In relation to it changing it's entire body shape in an instant (one minute it's an common octopus shape, one minute what appears to be a confused
triangle, next a furry turkey with two legs) ... I presume that its entire body is in effect it's brain, with neurons and typical brain synapses
throughout? Just can't see how muscles of any volume, no matter what compacting mechanism used, could morph to that extent of virtually disappearing
one minute, then expanding to the size of a flat rigid baseball bat soon after. Directly influenced by the conscious instructions, and little force to
move them would be necessary due to the naturally high malleability of brain neurons?
That amount of control over my bodies unconscious barely biofeedback reachable mechanisms would be awesome, controlling your core temp willing your
circadian rhythm to change by mentally fiddling with your suprachiasmatic nucleus would be so useful when sharing a bed with someone. Just will
yourself to sweat till they either drown, or move to the floor (sorry, it keeps happening to me recently)
In relation to it changing it's perceivable brightness (to us anyway, and the technology in the camera that picked it up too) to match the surrounding
luminance, I presume some sort of tepid white light bioluminescant property is in it's cells (or) neural circuitry could do.
And the fact it matches the pattern of the seaweed perfectly, so each edge of each flipping leaf corresponds to an exact copy on it's body it pretty
cool too. Again, showing signs of empathy based mirror neuron behavior, understanding perspective of predators by putting it's
consciousness/perspective in their shoes and working out the best solution.
Thinking like an octopus
Summer swims prompt researcher to probe unusual intelligence
Octopuses have large nervous systems, centered around relatively large brains. But more than half of their 500 million neurons are found in the arms
themselves, Godfrey-Smith said. This raises the question of whether the arms have something like minds of their own. Though the question is
controversial, there is some observational evidence indicating that it could be so, he said. When an octopus is in an unfamiliar tank with food in the
middle, some arms seem to crowd into the corner seeking safety while others seem to pull the animal toward the food, Godfrey-Smith explained, as if
the creature is literally of two minds about the situation.
Peter Godfrey-Smith has been intrigued by octopuses for years, diving in and around Sydney Harbour during summer breaks in his native Australia.
Stunned by the lack of scientific research on octopuses, Godfrey-Smith is now studying their intelligence, and whether their tentacles have minds of
If you were an octopus, would you view the world from eight different points of view? Nine?
The answer may depend on how many brains an octopus has, or, to say it another way, whether the robust bunches of neurons in its coiling, writhing,
incredibly handy arms bestow on each of them something akin to a brain. Is an octopus a creature ruled by a single consciousness centered in its large
brain, or, by dint of its nerve-infused legs, a collaborative, cooperative, but distributed mind?
The idea of a distributed mind among animals is not new, according to Peter Godfrey-Smith, who focuses his efforts on the philosophy of science.
Experiments indicate that when a bird learns a skill using only a single eye, and is later tested while being forced to use the other eye, the
learning does not transfer well.
“This suggests that animal minds lack the cohesiveness that humans have,” said Godfrey-Smith, a philosophy professor at Harvard. “It may have
something to do with consciousness. Maybe it acts as a unifying tool.”
Godfrey-Smith has been swimming with octopuses for years, diving in and around Sydney Harbour during summer breaks in his native Australia. It is only
recently, however, that he noticed that supremely camouflaged octopuses were pretty common there.
“For years, I was swimming and diving in this area of Sydney Harbour. I had an idea they were there, but didn’t know what to look for,”
Once he understood what to look for, he realized octopuses were all around. They’re so well-camouflaged, he said, it is best to look not for the
animal, but for their dens. They often collect bits of marine debris — broken glass, tiles, and other hard substances — and put them out front.
“They’re watching us even if we’re not watching them,” Godfrey-Smith said.
edit on 3-5-2013 by ZeuZZ because: (no reason
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