The Mutable Master of Disguise

While other people have the hobby of randomly looking things up in dictionaries, I indulge in the low-cost-low-space version of this past-time: looking things up on the internet! The advantage of this, that you stumble upon lots of other bizarre finds alongside some ‘officially approved’ dictionary entry. Today’s search engine input was: octopus ink. I wanted to know how good octopus ink is for writing purposes. As you can see from my link, I’ve found some sort of answer, but also, I have discovered that there is a whole online news magazine dedicated to octopi and other cephalopods. There are speculations about the cephalopods’ intelligence, the cephalopodcast, a cuttlefish farm and blogs such as The Inkspot, Pharyngula, Squid and Squidblog. Moreover, I now know that there is not only an octopus, but also a wunderpus and, thanks to the power of photoshop, the ‘elusive’ land dwelling tree octopus (especially beware of that one…). Even more bizarre sitings include the octopus yoga where the octopus stands for our own mutability and the octopus in art as ‘The Mutable in the Soup’. Mutability is, in fact, mentioned often in connection with the octopus, mainly because its skin can change colour and patterns very quickly. Therefore, Interview with an Octopus calls it the Master of Disguise. According to the Waikiki Aquarium,

“Octopus escape detection by both prey and predators thanks to their ability to change skin color to match their surroundings. Millions of pigment cells (chromatophores) in the skin expand or shrink when stimulated by the nervous system, creating color patterns that can be changed instantly. In addition to camouflage, the chromatophores can be activated to create patterns used in communication with other octopuses. Other tiny muscles in the skin contract or relax to change the texture of the octopus’ skin surface.”

Here is an example:

Wow!

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