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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Octopus Species: Mimic Octopus

Appropriately named, this unique species of octopus has a very special skill: it can mimic several different sea creatures. The Mimic Octopus, which grows to about 2 feet in length, is found in the tropical seas of South East Asia and was not officially discovered until 1998. Like any other octopus, the Mimic Octopus is an intelligent mollusk with a boneless body, eight arms, each with two rows of suction cups. It catches pray with its arms and kills with it's hard beak, or paralyzes prey with a nerve poison, then sucks out the flesh.

While all octopuses have the ability to change color and even texture to hide among rocks and blend in with the sea floor, the Mimic Octopus actually impersonates other animals. The long list of creatures it has been seen masquerading as includes jellyfish, mantis shrimp, sea snakes, brittle stars, and lionfish. 

It is believed that the Mimic Octopus developed its imitation technique to adapt to their environment, where they are prey as well as predator. Becoming a "poisonous" creature is often the best defense from being eaten by the many carnivorous sea creatures that patrol the waters. Mimicry also helps the Mimic Octopus sneak up on prey that would normally flee at the sight of an octopus; it can imitate a crab as a potential mate, only to devour the "suitor" it bamboozled.


Anonymous said...

Wah! octos are creepy but very impressive at the same time, just like jellyfish, thanks for share.

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Faith Carroll said...

So I am thinking of using the Mimic Octopus for a project. So do you know how much the Mimic Octopus eats? Adult and 'Child', please.

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