Master of DisguiseThis article isn't about a news item. Rather, it's more a celebration of how fascinating nature can be, and how it can sometimes be so damn cool that it actually blows our mind! The Mimic Octopus aka Thaumoctopus mimicus, which was only discovered in 1998 off the coast of Indonesia, is simply amazing (Brian wrote about it a few years ago).
I've compiled a few videos that show it in action. You have to see for yourself, as a textual description doesn't do justice to how cool the Mimic's camouflage abilities are.
That this awesome creature was only discovered by humans less than 15 years ago makes me wonder how many other seemingly magical species there are out there...
The mimic octopus lives exclusively in nutrient-rich estuarine bays of Indonesia and Malaysia full of potential prey. It uses a jet of water through its funnel to glide over the sand while searching for prey, typically small fish, crabs, and worms. It also is prey to other species. Like other octopuses, the mimic octopus' soft body is made of nutritious muscle, without spine or armor, and not obviously poisonous, making it desirable prey for large, deep water carnivores, such as barracuda and small sharks. Often unable to escape such predators, its mimicry of different poisonous creatures serves as its best defense. Mimicry also allows it to prey upon animals that would ordinarily flee an octopus; it can imitate a crab as an apparent mate, only to devour its deceived suitor.
This octopus mimics venomous sole, lion fish, sea snakes, sea anemones, and jellyfish. For example, the mimic is able to imitate a sole by pulling its arms in, flattening to a leaf-like shape, and increasing speed using a jet-like propulsion that resembles a sole. When spreading its legs and lingering on the ocean bottom, its arms trail behind to simulate the lion fish's fins. By raising all of its arms above its head with each arm bent in a curved, zig-zag shape to resemble the lethal tentacles of a fish-eating sea anemone, it deters many fish. It imitates a large jellyfish by swimming to the surface and then slowly sinking with its arms spread evenly around its body. (source)