Have you ever noticed that alien or monster films seem to draw the inspiration for their weird and wonderful creations from below the ocean’s surface? Just take a look at Avatar for a great example of this.
OK, I can see how this might freak someone out...
The octopus is an animal that can strike a level of fear that, at first glance, would seem irrational. I mean, ask a scuba diver and the majority will tell you they love to watch an octopus. Their ability to hide in plain sight, change color to match their surroundings and pour their boneless bodies through unimaginably small apertures mesmerize us.
Watching an octopus is an awesome experience!
Yet if you read a little more about them you will wonder if the advanced heptopods that feature in the recent movie Arrival are the shape of things to come. Could they really rule the world in a future beyond human imagination? Could they really come back from the future, or wherever they appeared from, to….well I can’t tell you what they might be here to do because that would spoil the movie and the perplexing paradoxical question that it poses. I know what you are going to say, you’re trying to make yourself feel better by telling yourself that a heptapod has seven legs and an octopus has eight. Pah! Remember that an octopus can drop a leg and leave it behind wriggling to distract a predator while they jet away obscured by a cloud of ink. So isn’t it possible that these heptopods did just that…or is that my narcosis taking a wild and fanciful leap?
The ability to regrow a leg isn’t the only amazing characteristic octopus display. Octopus can learn. With just a few demonstrations, an octopus can open a jar to get food. Learning by observation and very quickly is quite advanced.
Octopus regularly cause chaos in aquariums by defying constraints to enter other tanks and feed on erstwhile exhibits and innocently return to their allotted environment. They’ve been filmed killing sharks, causing havoc with lighting systems, pump mechanisms and even taking out the very recording devices placed to capture their antics. In fact, there’s not really much that can keep an octopus contained, if it really wants to it can morph through tiny gaps, and many have escaped labs in such a fashion.
Octopus use tools. Yes, they can carry coconut shells to hide under, build dens with rocks, and can lever shells open with bits of wood.
Carrying a coconut shell for defense!
Their mimicry allows some species to take the shape of other creatures to fend off predators. They have been recorded taking the shape of flatfish, banded sea snakes, lion fish, and stone fish.
You want some of this?!?!
Their ability to hide from their prey to ambush their next meal is frightening if you happen to be on the menu but they also apply an intelligent physiology to their hunting techniques should strike fear. Octopus can been seen playing the old tap on the shoulder technique. Using one of their many arms to make their dinner sense danger in one direction which scoots their prey directly to their hungry beak, which is strong enough to break shells.
Octopuses have quite a unique brain structure. They have a central brain, but also one for each tentacle and another behind their eyes. What this means is that their tentacles can work independently with their own plan and don’t require a signal from their main brain. Further, their tentacles can keep attacking even though their central brain is dead.
Worried yet? Well then there’s the venom. Yes, they’re all venomous. The blue ringed octopus is beautiful, but can pose a real danger for humans.
Beautiful...but DON'T TOUCH!
So to sum up, octopuses are intelligent, observational learners, can use tools, have fear inducing predatory techniques, superb defensive abilities and simply can’t be contained. They’re shape shifters who could disguise themselves as your pet cat and let’s face it, the cat flap isn’t going to be a barrier. So what’s stopping their quest for world domination? Very little really. Just a few evolutionary tweaks.
Did I mention they can survive on land, for a limited time, enough to traverse to pools or make a short trek to get food. Remember the one that went from its tank and back? Crawling out of the ocean long term is an evolutionary trick that far less intelligent beings (like my seventh-grade math teacher) have conquered.
Who needs water?
Generally, octopus are solitary and have a limited lifespan so an organised long-term offensive in retaliation for all that calamari consumption does seem a way off. The biggest thing holding this species back, however, is the ability to teach their young. The male octopus dies after mating and the female lives just long enough for her eggs to hatch. Now given all that we know, imagine if they could pass on their knowledge and consolidate that with the learnings of future generations. Makes the impending zombie apocalypse sound like a walk in the park when faced with a creature like this.
Thankfully, here at Getting Nauti we have you covered. In anticipation of the coming tide we have created several talisman which will mark you as a cephalopod-follower. Check out our octopus ring pendants, and clothing and rest easy as part of the clan.