Mimicry in the animal kingdom is fascinating, and more common than many realize. Of course, we’re all familiar with chameleons; we’ve seen the butterflies that can appear as bits of tree bark or leaves; and we remember walking sticks, those funky little arthropods that look like… sticks.
But the aptly-named “mimic octopus” takes the concept a step further.
Rather than using camouflaging to blend into its surroundings, the mimic octopus actively imitates other species. It contorts its body at will, conforming to the shape of other local sea creatures. It is the only known animal that can imitate more than one species, and living in the Pacific Ocean, there’s no shortage of shapes to become (1).
The octopus is harmless, but it can imitate the highly venomous lion fish to dissuade an attacker. It has been observed burying itself in the sand, leaving two of its arms protruding to appear as a sea snake. It can even inflate its head, stretch its arms, and slowly float through the sea, mimicking a jellyfish (1).
We’re still learning about these fascinating little creatures, and they continue to amaze marine biologists and casual observers (like me) alike. Check out the video below, and you won’t be disappointed.
Photo Credit: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/