The mimicking octopus is one of the most fascinating creatures you could ever find in the ocean. Its body looks like it’s covered in small tentacles, but it actually has eight arms. This creature uses those arms to mimic the movements of another animal. For example, it might use its arms to imitate the way a crab moves around its shell. Scientists call this behavior “mimesis.”
Scientists classify the mimicking octopus into three different groups based on how many arms it has. They are called thaumatopods, thaumoctopuses, and thaumoctopiids. A thaumatopod has four arms, a thaumoctopus has six, and a thaumoctopiid has eight. These names come from Greek words meaning “godlike.”
The mimic octopus is a small octopus, growing to total lengths of about 60 centimeters (24 inches). Including arms, the body diameter ranges from about 2 feet (60 cm) to 3 feet (1 m). The head is large, wider than long; the eyes are surrounded by tentacles, and there are eight pairs of arms, four on each side. The skin is smooth except for tiny tubercles near the suckers. The mantle is very thick, extending over most of the body except for the head and tail. The dorsal surface is dark brownish gray, while the ventral surface is lighter.
A characteristic feature of the mimic octopus is the presence of horns on the eyes. These are used to defend themselves against predators such as crabs and lobsters. In addition, the octopus changes color rapidly to imitate other animals that might be dangerous to it. This is accomplished by retracting its ink sacs, which fill up the mantle cavity, and expelling water through special openings called siphons. When the octopus does this, the coloration of the skin changes because the pigment cells absorb different wavelengths of light.
As a defense mechanism, the octopus mimics poisonous animals such as sea snakes and jellyfish, and aggressive fish like groupers and barracuda. If the octopus is attacked, it inflates itself, distends its neck, and throws out jets of water. The jets resemble those produced by venomous animals, and often cause panic among nearby marine life. A similar effect occurs when the octopus squirts ink into the water, causing prey to flee.
In captivity, the mimic octopus eats live food such as shrimp and worms. It sometimes feeds on dead fishes and squid. Captive specimens grow quickly and reach sexual maturity within three months. They breed continuously throughout the year. Females lay eggs every one to two weeks.
Mimic octopuses are found in warm seas worldwide, especially in tropical areas, where they inhabit coral reefs and rocky bottoms. They are common along the coastlines of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and South Africa.
Habitat and range
The mimic octopus is named after its appearance; it looks like an eight-legged octopus. Its body is covered in suckers that are used to capture prey.
Its habitat ranges from shallow coastal waters to depths of over 300 meters. In recent years, it has been recorded living up to 2,500 meters deep.
In the wild, the mimic octopus lives in groups of about 10 individuals. They tend to live near coral reefs and feed on crabs, small fish, worms, mollusks, sea cucumbers, and shrimp.
Octopuses use many behaviors to survive. Some of these include camouflage, escaping predators, hiding from prey, and even mimicking other creatures. Octopuses use their tentacles to capture food and pull it into their mouth. They also use ink sacs to squirt ink to confuse potential predators. When threatened, they will hide inside crevices or under rocks. If an octopus cannot escape, it may resort to self defense such as spitting venom at predators.
The mimic octopus uses a unique method of locomotion called jet propulsion. Instead of swimming forward like most cephalopods, it glides along the bottom of the ocean floor using jets of water expelled through its funnel. This allows it to move quickly across the seabed without having to expend much energy.
Mimic octopuses are known to inhabit shallow waters, preferring rivers and estuaries. However, they have been found living up to 30 meters deep off the coast of New Zealand. They prefer muddy bottoms where there is little current flow, and avoid areas with strong currents and rocky bottoms.
In addition to hunting and eating smaller invertebrates, mimic octopuses are known cannibalistic. In one case, a female octopus ate her mate, who had died during mating season. She later produced eggs and gave birth to live young.
Protection When Feeding
A newly discovered species of octopus is one of the most impressive examples of convergent evolution known to science. A team led by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences found a new genus and species of octopus living off the coast of southern Australia. This species of octopus has evolved to look like a sea snake, a type of predator that eats other marine creatures. Octopuses are among the few invertebrates that can change color, and some species even use camouflage to hide themselves from predators. But the new species goes beyond simple coloration; it can also morph into the shape of a sea snake.
The new species, named Mimic Octopus, lives along the coastline near Port Lincoln, South Australia. Researchers collected the specimens during dives in shallow waters. They found Mimic Octopus hiding in holes on the ocean floor. As soon as the divers approached, the octopus changed colors and took on the appearance of a sea snake. In fact, the octopus looked exactly like a sea snake except for the absence of scales. For about 30 minutes, the octopus displayed a variety of behaviors typical of sea snakes, such as coiling around objects and swimming slowly. Then, the octopus returned to normal.
Researchers think that Mimic Octopus uses this strategy to avoid being eaten by predatory sea snakes. Sea snakes hunt by sneaking up on their prey and biting them in the neck. Because Mimic Octopus looks like a sea snake, it might be able to fool the sea snake into thinking that it’s safe. If the octopus is successful, it might escape unharmed.
This ability to imitate another animal is called convergent evolution. Convergent evolution occurs when unrelated animals evolve similar traits because they face similar challenges. One common example of convergent evolution is birds’ wings and bats’ wings. Both types of wings allow flight. However, birds and bats have different wing shapes to achieve those goals. Another example is how sharks and rays have developed armor plating to protect themselves from attacks from large fish. Scientists don’t know why octopuses evolved to look like sea snakes. But Mimic Octopus provides an interesting glimpse into what else we might discover about the world of convergent evolution.
Andrea Ferrari and Antonella Ferrari are a couple of photographers based in Italy who specialize in underwater photography. They love photographing marine life, including cephalopods like cuttlefish, squid, octopus and nautilus. Their work has been published in National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Discovery Channel Magazine, Ocean Xpress Magazine, Aquarium Fish Magazine, and many others.
In 2016, they started documenting the mating behavior of Octopus mimicus, a species native to the Mediterranean Sea. This particular species is known for having a unique way of copulation. When it wants to mate, the male approaches the female, and while she is still attached to her shell, he inserts his arms inside hers and starts to squeeze. He does this for about 20 minutes, during which time the female releases eggs into his body. Afterward, he holds onto her for some time, sometimes even letting go of her just to rest.
The process takes place over several days, and the male usually mates with three females throughout his lifetime.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Octopuses are cephalopods – molluscs that include squid, cuttlefish, nautiluses and squids. They are one of the most intelligent invertebrates known to science. Octopuses are able to change colour, camouflage themselves, use tools, solve problems and even play games. Their brains contain about 90% of the same neurons as our own, making them among the smartest creatures on Earth.
The octopus is a complex animal. Males develop external genitalia and females produce eggs; both sexes carry out internal fertilisation. Most species mate during spring and summer, although some do it throughout the year. Mating behaviour varies across species, but usually involves males inserting their hectocotyli into the female’s mantle cavities. This causes her to release sperm packets called spermatophores. After mating, the male often dies soon afterwards. Females store sperm in their bodies for up to three weeks, and sometimes longer. She feeds on small crustaceans and fish, and she uses her tentacles to catch prey. When she finds food, she brings it to her mouth and eats it. While eating, she keeps her arms folded over her body and holds onto her prey with her suckers.
After mating, the female lays hundreds of thousands of eggs in a nest made of sand, mud or coral rubble. Some species build nests near the surface of the sea bed, others bury theirs deep down. The eggs are carried by currents and deposited in suitable locations, such as crevices or under boulders. Once laid, the eggs remain there for several days, protected from predators. On hatching, the young octopuses swim away and disperse widely.