Throughout my ramblings at Wild Facts I have discussed several adaptations that animals have evolved to respond to predators. For example we have learned that the hog-nose snake plays dead or that the chickadee changes its song to warn its friends. If you ask me, I think the Mimic Octopus has them all beat. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the hog-nose snake was fascinating and a great actor but they have nothing on the mimic octopus.
Like other octopus’ the mimic octopus is an intelligent mollusc with eight arms each with two rows of suction cups. As a side note, the octopus is thought to be the most intelligent invertebrate. Similarly, most octopus’ are capable of changing their colour but the mimic octopus is able to change its colour, shape and behaviour to act like other animals. That’s right when a mimic octopus is threatened they will take the form of other animals to scare off the would be predator. If this were an X-Men movie then the mimic octopus would be like Mystique or some other shape shifter. For example if it were being attacked by a damselfish then the octopus would take the shape of a banded sea snake by changing its colour to black and white, drawing in six of its arms and waving the other two in opposite directions. You are thinking that this is pretty cool but how does it help the mimic octopus against the damselfish. Well, the banded sea snake is one of the main predators of the damselfish. The incredible thing about all this is the fact that this type of octopus can mimic at least 15 different species of animals depending upon its environment and what predator it is faced with at any given time. So far they have been known to mimic sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, sea shells, giant crabs, stingrays, jellyfish, flounders, sea anemones and mantis shrimp among others. I guess this just goes to show you that not everything is what it seems. So be careful the next time you go to pick up a jellyfish because it may just be a mimic octopus!
If you are still curious and would like to see one in action then check out the video in the post below.