Amazing Octopus Shapeshifts Into 'Furry Turkey with Human Legs' [VIDEO]

03/27/2012

MimicMeet the mimic octopus: one of nature's most remarkable disguise artists. This creature has the phenomenal ability to morph its body in an instant to take on the shape of just about any other animal around it.

Usually the octopus uses its shapeshifting abilities to scare away predators by taking the form of a poisonous creature, like a sea snake, sole or lionfish. But one mimic octopus recently morphed into something scientists had never seen before (shown in the picture to the right): what appears to be a "furry turkey with human legs."

It looks almost as if, rather than attempting to flee, the octopus is poking fun at the human divers who were filming it. You can see a video featuring this scene as well as many of the mimic octopus' other remarkable acts below:

 

First described by science as recently as 1998, the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) has delighted researchers ever since. The long list of animals it has been known to mimic includes stingrays, flounders, giant crabs, sea shells, mantis shrimp, jellyfish and sea anemones.

"Sometimes it's hard when you watch a mimic octopus doing what it does to interpret what's going on," said biologist Mark Norman. "It's a bit like looking at ink blots in a psychiatrist's office."

One thing's for sure, though: being a successful disguise artist isn't easy. It likely requires a sharp imagination. For instance, to effectively deter predators, the octopus must not only accurately mirror the shape of another creature, it must behave convincingly too. The feat also requires enough intelligence to understand which creatures are worth mimicking.

Then again, maybe this is just one octopus with a great sense of humor.

[Via NPR]


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