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Awesome Octopi: Cephalopods from Outer Space

Link - by Avi Abrams

Nothing's like an octopus that wants to hide.

Pun intended: it does look like nothing until you approach really close, then it springs at you (morphs at you, intimidates and astounds you, you pick the right verb) Here is a video that most tellingly shows how some unassuming clump of weed on a rock can grow tentacles in a matter of moments:


This "invisible octopus" is fine, but "mimicking octopus" is even finer piece of trickery. We've already written about this lying critter, so here's a little refresher:

Photos by Ken Knezick, M. Norman, R. Steene - via

As shown in this impressive video, the Indonesian Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) can impersonate sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish - and in normal form it looks pretty weird, too.

Veined octopus - Octopus marginatus - puts on a neon show:

(image credit: Teresa Zuberbühler)

Blue-ringed Octopus is well-known to be one of the "deadliest animal on Earth" (read about others who qualify) Here is a good info page about this species. "Although the painless bite can kill an adult, injuries have only occurred when an octopus has been picked out of its pool and provoked or stepped on. There is no known antidote. Symptoms include:

- Onset of nausea.
- Hazy Vision. ( Within seconds you are blind.)
- Loss of sense of touch, speech and the ability to swallow.
- Within 3 minutes, paralysis sets in and your body goes into respiratory arrest.

(photos by Teresa Zuberbühler)

See it live crawling around (and learn to distinguish it from harmless fish and surroundings) - click to watch video. At the end of the video it looks just like a little brown fish innocently swimming by!

Some octopi (like legendary Houdini himself) can hide in a most improbable spaces, making themselves seemingly as small as they wish to be. Here is one hiding inside a shell! and another one trying to hide behind a leaf:

All tucked in (inside a shell), and even has a pillow! -

(photos by Teresa Zuberbühler)

When they unfold and get out in the open, they are formidable animals indeed:
(a diver gets acquainted with one old and wise specimen in the Japan Sea, Primorie, Russia - a 23-foot Giant Pacific Octopus Doflein)

(photos by Andrei Shpatak)


Choose Your Alien

Squids are just as outlandish as octopi. Here are some miniature transparent beauties: Teuthowenia pellucida, Deep Sea Glass Squid -

(image via)

Still not satisfied that Earth can produce creatures crazy and alien-looking enough to come out of some nightmarish imagination?... like this one:

"The Suthurian Predator", by Nicholas Cloister

Well, this squid should settle the matter

The Colossal Squid is significantly scarier than a giant squid (we are past the "giant" scale now, into the "colossal") - it not only has suckers lined with small teeth on its arms and tentacles, but it also has hooks: sharp, three-pointed kind of hooks, wicked and wickedly efficient.

The colossal squid can get as big as 20 meters, which is more than two school buses put together. Their other name is the "Giant Cranch" (I'd say, it's pretty graphic...), they have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom and enjoy swimming in the ice-cold Antarctic deep waters.

(images via 1, 2)

"This animal, armed as it is with the hooks and the beak that it has, not only is colossal in size but is going to be a phenomenal predator and something you are not going to want to meet in the water." (source and more info)

Mesonychoteuthis Hamiltoni are ridiculously quick, equipped with the lethal hooks, with their size most likely understated by reports (judging by the size of colossal squid parts found inside whales, much larger specimens could be existing in the icy murk)

upper and left image: Lee Krystek, via

Just to give you an idea, how deadly encounter with squid tentacles can be, here is an image of the razor-sharp squid hooks that can shred a victim in a blink:

A Paranormal Squid Romance, and a Warning

As though all this is not enough, there is a Vampire Squid! -

Vampyroteuthis infernalis looks and behaves like it jumped from the fervent concept art portfolio of some CGI studio - for starters, it is able to turn itself inside out (to the utmost confusion of its pursuer). It also perfectly mastered the stealth mode: red color in the pitch blackness of the depths is invisible.

Its body is covered with light-producing photophores, so it can also "light up" like a christmas tree. Its arms and tentacles are covered with.... you guessed it, teeth, razor-sharp spikes. And it's made out of "jelly" rather like a jellyfish, not a normal squid.

Now see if you can give it a license to dwell on Earth... wait, it already has all that, and loves to haunt our oceanic abyss, preferring depths up to 3000 feet. What lives deeper than that? More cephalopods!. Perhaps you've already seen the video of Magnapinna squid, the crooked, elbowed Hieronymus Bosch nightmare:

(images via: National Georgaphic)

More denizens of the deep that human eye rarely sees: a telescope octopus, Amphitretus (left) and a glowing sucker octopus (right) -

Photos by Steven Haddock and Claire Nouvian

All excited about octopi and cephalopods? Try this octopus jewelry from OctopusMe (made from parts of real octopus, too) -

See more from their catalog. And never, never stay in the water if you catch the sound of "Jaws" music playing somewhere (it's known to attract sharks, huge sharks, and now colossal squids, too) -

(image credit: Mandrak)


Also Read:
Weird Walking Frog-Fish
Odd-Looking Marine Animals You Never Knew Existed
Out-of-this-world Fishing

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Blogger Allen Knutson said...

For more cephalopod video, check out the second half of this TED talk. The first half is good too.

Anonymous WannaSmile.com said...

Wow. Camoflouge is the coolest. I can't believe how quickly it went from looking like a rock covered in algae to it's true self!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i pot coy octopi

Anonymous 256 said...

As soon as I opened this post, I started thinking back to that Magnapinna video. Truly one of the most unearthly things I've ever seen.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Octopus is a Greek word meaning 8 feet. As it is Greek, it shouldn't be written as Octopi. Only Latin words take 'i' for their plural. We should say octopuses, in the same way we should say platypuses, not platypi. :P

Anonymous Marilyn Terrell said...

oooh I love that vampire squid that can turn itself inside out

Anonymous kristen said...

the collosal squid doesnt just have hooked teeth, each one of those teeth can rotate 360 degrees! yes they are all free floating teeth!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vampire squid has such facinating eyes, they almost look like cool blue stones set into its head like gems on a crown.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

true... wonderful observation

Anonymous areana said...

i pot coy octopi.

Blogger xenobiologista said...

You missed out the Blanket Octopus. It's another really funky-looking one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpME-jNSC2U

David Taylor (a zoo vet who used to be on TV long before Animal Planet channel existed) had this story in one of his books about how he was supposed to pick up a giant Pacific octopus at the airport. When he opened the box to check, it slithered out, ran across the cargo room, and climbed onto a bicycle. He had a heck of a time untangling it, fortunately it didn't know how to ride.


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