cephalopod appreciation
November 9, 2008 3:06 AM   Subscribe

The beautiful and amazing caped crusader, Tremoctopus. Amazing Cephalopods, that can moonwalk, run, cleverly open a variety of jars and shapeshift. Masters of illusion. Giant octopus encounter. Shark vs. Octopus.

The video explains that when threatened, the octopus unfurls a giant sheet of webbing that trails behind like a cape. The webbing breaks apart rather easily when attacked — much like a lizard’s tail — and it gets wrapped around the predator’s face, giving the octopus a chance to flee.

Unusual size difference between female and male, who tears off his tentacle and gives it to her l Details of the blanket octopus. Octopus intelligence.

Octopus sex and mating.

Octopuses walk backwards.

Dr. Roger Hanlon on cuttlefish and camouflage with that extraordinary disappearing octopus video.

posted by nickyskye (60 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I hug you with all eight of my arms for this post.

And I juggle!
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:24 AM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

That Masters of illusion clip is amazing, especially the algae thing at the end. Thank you for this post!
posted by bjrn at 3:51 AM on November 9, 2008

Wonderful post. Now I know that when the sea invades the land I'll never see the bastards coming. Ta!
posted by Jilder at 4:04 AM on November 9, 2008

Wonderful post, nickyskye, but there's one glaring omission, and it's from right here in your own backyard: Cephalopod.

Yes, nickyskye, you and lotsa you other MeFiers should visit MetaFilter Music a little more often, even when songs aren't sidebarred!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:07 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Awesome post!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 AM on November 9, 2008

Octopussy was my favorite Bond girl, Gemma Arterton notwithstanding.

Two thumbs up!

No... I didn't make that joke. It was my evil twin.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:53 AM on November 9, 2008

Oh yes, wonderful post!

And I shall take this opportunity to link to one of my favourite cephalopod related comments ever.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:01 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

But they aren't all so cute and pretty; at least one is a saboteur!

Great set of links about incredible animals!
posted by TedW at 5:26 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

They're a super-intelligent species and they taste great too!
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:49 AM on November 9, 2008

Please Present Your Octopus.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:55 AM on November 9, 2008

Thanks nicky. Eight thumbs up.

How many octopodes does it take to screw in a light bulb?

posted by netbros at 6:19 AM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

According to campaign whispers, Sarah Palin liked Cephalopods, until she found out they weren't a different kind of iPod.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 AM on November 9, 2008

Awesome! Great post. I am never eating octopus again; they're waay too cool and smart to end up in my mouth being chewed for 6 minutes.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:15 AM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

We love apes because they are so much like humans, and love cephalopods because they... aren't.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:23 AM on November 9, 2008

"Shark vs. Octopus." Never more compelling words in the English language. No, any language!
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:49 AM on November 9, 2008

Octopi are the most amazing things in the ocean, in my opinion. I love this kind of stuff, thanks.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:22 AM on November 9, 2008

And above the sea.... They are arriving.... Hi there!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 8:24 AM on November 9, 2008

Cephalopod backpack!
posted by Vindaloo at 8:36 AM on November 9, 2008

Oh man do I love you for this.
posted by Busithoth at 8:49 AM on November 9, 2008

...cleverly open a variety of jars...

Yes, but can they open a bottle of cachaça?
posted by Knappster at 8:57 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Octopuses? Really? Is "octopi" too hoity-toity? Not 'down home' enough?
posted by Eideteker at 9:19 AM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

OMG, what a fantastic post! Cuttlefish and Octopuses are my favorite animals, just amazing and magical creatures. It seems completely immoral to eat them, like dining on unicorns.


There are three forms of the plural of octopus; namely, octopuses, octopi, and octopodes. Currently, octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US; octopodes is rare, and octopi is often objected to.
posted by Auden at 9:53 AM on November 9, 2008

I'm telling you, they're all conspiring against us. You can't trust them, by Jupiter! One day they'll learn to breathe our air and walk on land.....2 legs & 6 arms for guns.....I hope you're all building Octopus-proof bunkers (which, from what I've read about their houdiniesqueness, will be really difficult to do)

*crawls back under bed*
posted by Salmonberry at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2008

posted by Citizen Premier at 10:47 AM on November 9, 2008

After reading, watching, and otherwise encountering several projects regarding octopus intelligence, I've found myself absolutely incapable of eating them. They're just too aware, too crafty.

This handily captures all of those projects in one place and gives me several new cephalopods to appreciate. Thank you!
posted by batmonkey at 11:19 AM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Wait is that one of the "aliens" form the Abyss?
posted by manosthf at 11:24 AM on November 9, 2008

In today's news there is a small Antarctic octopus from which, apparently, all deep-sea octopuses (octopi? octopodes?) descended from 30 million years ago.
posted by eye of newt at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2008

(octopi? octopodes?)

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2008

posted by UbuRoivas at 12:01 PM on November 9, 2008

man, i love blanket octopuses. they only discovered the male of the species a year or two ago, if memory serves correctly.

or, better: the males were known, but it took a while for the scientists to put two & two together because they're the most sexually dimorphous creatures on the planet. that is, males & females are radically different in size. he's about as big as a walnut, while she's a couple of metres across.

the guys hitch rides on their partners as they fly around the ocean. to add a bit of value to the partnership, the males are immune to the deadly box jellyfish, so they snap off a couple of box jellyfish tentacles, with which they can neutralise any attacker.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:09 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

sorry, man-o-war jellyfish. it was in one of the links.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:16 PM on November 9, 2008

Whoa, I'd never seen the caped octopus. And here I thought I was the Queen of Cephalopods... Thanks so much for the links!
posted by ikahime at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2008

I approve of this thread.

Grimpoteuthis info.

On video, they look like little flying whales or tiny pacman ghosts!

Grimpoteuthis apparel for women and men ("men" via the previous Grimpoteuthis post).

Flickr is full of grimpoteuthis photos and crafts.

Tonmo is an "octopus news magazine" and forum online that I have just found.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:11 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

hmm, that "tiny pacman ghosts" video claims to be unavailable on preview, but it does work if you click the link instead of the little play-video-in-mefi button.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2008

Oh YAY Cephalopodophilia! what wonderful additional links you all have brought here.

I owe this post to vronsky, who linked to the ooh ahh caped crusader video in the comments of his lantern medusa jellyfish post.

batmonkey, Auden and iamkimiam, I said to grobstein a week ago:I think we should have a Cephalopod Appreciation and Amazement Society. Those critters are *mind blowing*. I just can't eat calamari anymore after being on the blue. I see those chewy circles and know I'm eating a marine genius, a creature that if it were human would have been an Einstein. Can't do it.

But Auden, you said it so much more poetically and beautifully, "It seems completely immoral to eat them, like dining on unicorns." Yes, it does. For the rest of my life I will not eat another octopus or squid.

In constructing this post I had such fun learning things about octopuses (Including that is the word chosen by scientists for them, oddly not the Latin octopi. Can't help thinking it's got that Puss sound in there, more endearing and mammalian, Octo Pusses). I just never thought about octopus eyes. Who knew they had such incredible eyes and brains? How incredible they can watch people outside the aquarium opening a jar and learn how to twist open the jar. Doesn't that require them capable of having complex concepts of containing, function, method? I just never thought of any non mammalian sea creature that way. Dolphins are mammals, so their intelligence, communication seems more understandable.

Cephalopds are in the class of molluscs, with snails, slugs, oysters, clams, mussels. What an incredible intelligence difference between them! How did that happen to them and not to the others in the same class?

In the giant octopus link, I loved seeing the diver's face when the huge octopus covered his body, so intimately examining the diver with tentacles. Pretty sexy that I thought. The diver was transfixed in wonder and shock.

I wonder what language octopuses speak? Is it only a coded one of colors? A morse code of sorts?

In elendil71's charming anecdote, if that big octopus reached out a tentacle to save the little octopus, then there must be some understanding between them, not just parental instinct but understanding. I'd love to know more about their friendships and community. Apparently they enjoy playing. I wonder if theirs is a solitary sort of genius? That seems so unlike genius, to be solitary. That level of intelligence would, I imagine, require interaction with other creatures who are like-minded. But octopuses are never seen in flocks, or swarms or whatever a group of them would be called.

Oooh, a fun site to include, that shows the names for groups of animals. Apparently a group of octopuses is called an arran. And the adjective is octopine. That's a lovely adjective. (I love the adjective for alligator, eusuchian. wouldn't that be pronounced, "You suckian" or "Eww suckian"?)

I digress, as usual.

Thanks for the marvelous thread guys.
posted by nickyskye at 3:28 PM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

"Currently, octopuses is the most common form in the UK as well as the US; octopodes is rare, and octopi is often objected to."

Citation? I've never heard "octopuses" except by tiny children who presumably "didn't know better," and that rarely. Octopodes, I'll grant, though.
posted by Eideteker at 3:40 PM on November 9, 2008

Awesome post. From the YouTube comments:

These are why you dont drop guns in the ocean. If it can unscrew a Jar, it can rob a liquor store.
posted by jimmythefish at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

PS, just came across this and had to share: the Wunderpus photogenicus. Yup, scientists decided to name a mimic octopus that. Wunderpus is such a great name for these rascals.

There are some other delightful names cooked up for critters eg

# Abra cadabra (Eames & Wilkins) 1957 (a clam)
# Aegrotocatellus Adrian and Edgecombe, 1995 (trilobite) Latin for "sick puppy".
# Ba humbugi, a snail from Fiji.
# Bobkabata kabatabobbus Hogans & Benz, 1990 (parasitic copepod) Named after parasitologist Bob Kabata.
# Corydoras narcissus Nijssen & Isbrucker, 1980 (catfish) Named "narcissus" because the discoverers insisted that the describer name the fish after them.
# Galaxias gollumoides (fresh-water fish) Named after Gollum because it has large eyes and was found in a swamp.
# Ittibittium, a genus of mollusks that are smaller than those named Bittium.

aww the Ittibittium! Scientists have such geek fun.

In the article about the Wonderpus there's this pic of an octopus playing dead while being photographed, keeping an eye on the photographer.What naughty taughties these wonderpusstats are.

On preview:
Eideteker, octopuses.

These are why you dont drop guns in the ocean.

jimmythefish , eponysterical. At least they're not screwing or unscrewing Jar Jar.
posted by nickyskye at 3:51 PM on November 9, 2008

I guess it's up to me to make the obligatory Dinosaur Comics link.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:12 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

What, no mention of the endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus?
posted by subbes at 4:29 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Deep Sea Octopus (Bathypolypus arcticus) hatching

Vampire Squid from Hell (3200 Feet Under Sea Level) - despite the hoky name, and the occasionally dim captions (AFAIK, the vampire squid is not the squid that releases luminescent clouds), it's a pretty interesting video.

Octopus escaping through a one inch hole

And, finally, thank you vindaloo for introducing me to Lio.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:37 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nothing like awesome cephalopod videos on a fall afternoon! Thanks Nickyskye & co.!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:24 PM on November 9, 2008

IAmBroom, That Vampire Squid from Hell (3200 Feet Under Sea Level) video you linked is amazing! What an incredible octopus! That is a neat little film, I enjoyed the remake using that music and the captions, which I didn't think were dim at all. Thanks for that.
posted by nickyskye at 7:33 PM on November 9, 2008

omg, I just learned how Cephalopods communicate. They are visual Shakespeares! They think their skin into patterns, using chromatophores. How incredible is that.
posted by nickyskye at 7:43 PM on November 9, 2008

When they separated, J-1 flashed some colors, turning almost white and then dark red.

From Aging octopus finds love at last - Romance blooms in Alaska aquarium
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:22 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why did I think it was spelled octopii?

no way this piglet squid is real. Is it?
posted by vronsky at 9:01 PM on November 9, 2008

posted by vronsky at 9:02 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

aww Ubu, I needed more hankies than when I saw The Notebook after reading that. *snurfle
posted by nickyskye at 9:03 PM on November 9, 2008

nickyskye - you know you can follow the whole story from that point onwards, with a bit of googling?

but best you pop out & get some more hankies first.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:17 PM on November 9, 2008

oh vronsky, that's an adorable piglet cephalopod. Here he is in his electric reindeer outfit. Must be on his way to the dance.

Aww look at that face! I want get all snuggleupagus with this chubsy wubsy. Look at that curly hairstyle. He's the squiglet snuggle puggle.

In science terms he's the Helicocranchia.

uh oh Ubu. So do J-1 and Aurora kick the bucket aquarium? But what happens to the 60,000 babies? *snurfles over to google
posted by nickyskye at 9:22 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

My favorite is Otto.

He juggles the hermit crabs in the tank, moves his stuff around and keeps smashing the lights because they annoy him.

He rules.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:51 PM on November 9, 2008

Uh oh, wayy down at the bottom of this deep blue thread, I'm sneaking in a few cuttlefish links. A regular cuttlefish (pretty awesome) and then there is the psychedelic Flamboyant cuttlefish, whoa dude. Part orchid and part Times Square.

It seems there's a place in Oz, Whyalla, which calls itself the cuttlefish capitol of the world. I'd like to go there.

A few interesting FAQs from somebody who has one as a pet:

1.Their brain is donut shaped with their stomach passing through the centre.
2.They have excellent senses, especially vision, smell and touch, but they are thought to be deaf.
3.A large proportion of the nervous system is in the eight sucker-covered arms.
4.Octopuses have three hearts and blue blood.
5. Males die shortly after breeding; the females tend the eggs until they hatch, after which they also die.
6. Even if they never breed their natural life span is only one or maybe two years depending on the species.
7. Octopuses have no bone structure, as they are invertebrates, despite this they are incredibly strong.
8. They are intelligent and require mental stimulation in captivity to prevent them from becoming bored.
9. There are less than a handful of people in the UK who keep them.
10. They are best kept on their own, most tank mates make a tasty meal.
11. Colour, texture and even body shape can be altered in an instant.
12. They can squeeze through tiny gaps.
13. Ink can be ejected to confuse would-be predators.
14. When swimming, octopuses use jet propulsion, a bit like a jet-ski.

posted by nickyskye at 11:37 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was looking for information on aquarium octopussesses crawling out of their tanks at night to snack on other exhibits and came across this article:

Apparently cephalopods may have distinct personalities, use tools, engage in play, sleep, and dream.

These are why you dont drop guns in the ocean. If it can unscrew a Jar, it can rob a liquor store.

Octopus robbing a liquor store > Orangutan stealing fish with a spear
posted by louche mustachio at 11:43 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

woah, doesn't that Megaleledone Setebos - the common ancestor of deep-sea octopuses - just look the part of the big ol' ringleader!
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:39 AM on November 10, 2008

Looks like an instigator, is what.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:25 AM on November 10, 2008

Being one of those folks who are fortunate enough to scuba dive, I’ve had the opportunity to observe them. Given their super-abilities, they are surprisingly quite shy and, hard to spy if you’re not keyed into them. I always feel like I’m an interloper if they notice me and move along or try to hide.

I’ve found that the best way to spot them is to move slowly along (it’s best if you can drift with the current) and simply take a big picture view while trying to note anything that’s slightly out of the norm. While they are great at blending in colors and some textures, they cannot perfectly replicate the texture of adjacent rock/coral formations.

If I am lucky enough to see something I think may be an octopus, I take extra time in gliding towards the location and try to time my exhalation so it’s finished before I get too near. If there’s a spot of sandy bottom, I settle down and can spend many minutes simply watching him/her watching me back. If they decide I’m not a threat, then they often go about their normal business – which is way cool.
posted by mightshould at 8:29 AM on November 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

This reminds of an interview in Errol Morris's First Person series.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2008

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