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Mimic octopus

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Mimic octopus
Mimic octopus.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Thaumoctopus mimicus

Mimic Octopus
Mimic octopus 2.jpg

The mimic octopus is a new and exciting creature recently discovered off the coast of Indonesia. The mimic octopus, not to be confused with the Wunderpus photogenicus (distinguished by its fixed white markings), is the first cephalopod discovered to impersonate other dangerous sea creatures by altering its behavior, actions, and/or color. The mimic is very intelligent and is able to determine which dangerous creature to impersonate based on which will present the greatest threat to the current predator. However, being a newly discovered species, research is still preliminary and the number of organisms it can imitate is not yet known.


Thaumoctopus Mimicus

The mimic octopus is characterized by its brown and white stripes and by its size, about 60 cm. [1] It is a soft-bodied mollusk with eight long arms lined with two rows of suckers and a narrow waist. [2] The mantle (also called a head) houses all of the internal organs. A siphon can be found on the mantle that uses the movement of water to propel the octopus through the water (jet propulsion). [3] Inside the mantle are the mimic octopus's three hearts. One heart pumps blood through the vascular system and two branchial hearts pump blood to the gills for oxygenation. This octopus also has a relatively complex nervous system. Part of this nervous system is located in the brain in the mantle. The other part is located in the nerve cords of the arms. Each sucker on the arm has a touch sensor and chemoreceptor which allow the octopus to feel texture and taste food. [4]


Octopi have separate sexes. During reproduction, a male octopus inserts a hectocotylus (specialized arm), into the female and deposits packets of sperm into her mantle cavity. Shortly after this, the hectocylus falls off and in the months following this, the male will die. After fertilization, a female will lay eggs.[5]The female mimic octopus will arrange the eggs into strings and carry them in her arms. When moving, the female will place the eggs in the arm crown and hold them with suckers. Unlike other octopi, the mimic octopus continues to feed after laying eggs.[6] Near the time that the larva will hatch, the female will die. The hatched larvae will then become part of the plankton cloud and later return to the ocean bottom when it matures.[7]


Mimic octopus in the wild
The mimic octopus was first discovered off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia in 1998. Since then, it has been found in the Indo-Malayan Archipelago, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.[8] [9] It likes to live in muddy bottoms of shallow, tropical estuaries. [10] It is often found entering and exiting subterranean tunnels in the sand or sitting near burrows or sand mounds. The mimic comes out during the daylight to forage on sand substrates.[11] Its diet consists of small crustaceans and fish. [12] Although it is a relatively new animal, there is a growing interest in diving for them and selling them live in captivity. In captivity however, the octopus displays none of its mimic abilities. [13]


The most fascinating thing about the mimic octopus is its ability to impersonate other animals. The environment that this octopus lives in is plain and therefore provides difficult conditions for the octopus to hide from predators. Instead of hiding, the octopus uses mimicry to defend itself from predators. While many octopi are known to change colors in order to camouflage themselves, none have been known to copy the behavior of other animals. [14]This octopus is involved in active mimicry, meaning that the animal changes its behavior to match that of a species distasteful to predators. [15]In this case, the mimic octopus changes its behavior to match that of predatorial animals. By doing so, the octopus appears to be a threat to its own predators. This defense mechanism is even more amazing, because the octopus can adapt its form to suit the perceived threat. For example, the mimic will behave as a sea snake to intimidate the damselfish whose predator is the sea snake.

It has been known to mimic the following animals:

  • Sole fish: The sole fish is a flat and poisonous fish. The mimic will draw all of its arms together to form a leaf-shaped wedge and move forward using jet propulsion.[16]
  • Lion fish: The lion fish is a large predator with poisonous fins. The octopus mimics it by swimming with its arms spread wide and moving around the body near the sea floor.[17]
  • Sea snake: The octopus copies this animal by changing its color to imitate the yellow and black stripes. It also sticks six of its arms into the sand and waves two arms to give the appearance of a snake. [18]
  • Sand Anemone: While not confirmed, it is assumed that the octopus imitate these sand anemones who are armed with stinging nematocysts. To copy them, the octopus sits on a sand mound and raises its arms in zig-zag shapes.[19]
  • Jellyfish: Although also not confirmed, it is believed that the mimic will swim towards the sea surface and float down with its arms waving around below it to impersonate the jellyfish.[20]

In addition, this octopus is believed to mimic the stingray, star fish, giant crabs, lionfish, seahorses, anemones, flounder, and mantis shrimp.[21][22] However because the octopus has been newly discovered, research is still preliminary and more time is needed to observe the mimic.

Video of a mimic octopus behaving like a sole fish, a lion fish, and a sea snake. {{#ev:googlevideo|1888654667283528144}}