October 28, 2010

The Mimic Octopus

Although all octopuses can change colour and texture, and many can blend with the sea floor, appearing as rocks, the mimic octopus is the first octopus species ever observed to impersonate other animals.

Based on observation, the mimic octopus may decide which animal to impersonate depending on local predators. For example, when the octopus was being attacked by damselfish, it was observed that the octopus appeared as a banded sea snake, a damselfish predator. The octopus impersonates the snake by turning black and yellow, burying six of its arms, and waving its other two arms in opposite directions.

The mimic octopus is often confused with Wunderpus photogenicus, another recently discovered species. The Wunderpus can be distinguished by the pattern of strong, fixed white markings on its body.

The Wunderpus.

Be sure to watch about a minute eighteen in when the mimic turns into a cute fuzzy something running on two legs. Yeah, I don’t know how to describe it, but that is one of the more fascinating characteristics of the octopus, when it turns into things we can’t figure out.

(via marginal revolution)


  1. Sheila Ryan on October 28th, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Holy . . . !

  2. Deron Bauman on October 28th, 2010 at 8:52 am


  3. Sheila Ryan on October 28th, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Maybe it’s just messing with our minds and having a joke at our expense when it takes on the guise of things we don’t recognize.

    Also, I wonder if it could impersonate the late Paul.

  4. Deron Bauman on October 28th, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I’m sure it is.

  5. Deron Bauman on October 28th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    you mean impersonate a psychic octopus?

  6. Sheila Ryan on October 28th, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Yes, indeed. Impersonate a psychic octopus.

  7. Deron Bauman on October 28th, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I’m pretty sure that’s the first time that sentence has been written.

  8. Jeff Milner on October 28th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I’m pretty sure I saw an octopus doing that move in a TED talk. It was impersonating a coconut. (Seriously). I’ll try and find the link.

  9. Derek White on October 28th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Soon they will start mimicking humans, or the cameras that take photos of them.

  10. Sheila Ryan on October 29th, 2010 at 8:26 am

    I sure hope so. I am developing an obsession with the mimic octopus.

  11. I Love You Octopus | clusterflock on November 21st, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    […] thinking about mimic octopods this evening. posted by Andrew Simone in animals, music, nature, video | * | […]