Octopuses have a reputation for being intelligent shapeshifters, blending in with their surroundings, and wowing us at almost every turn. As so often happens though, just when we think “how cool” nature is, it has even more wonder to reveal to us! Enter: the blanket octopus. These enormous technicolor creatures remind us that if we’re looking for awe, we need to look no further than the natural world!
You’ll find many strange things floating around our planet’s oceans, but the blanket octopus is sure to make you pause and scratch your head.
Drifting out in the ocean, trailing a two-meter long blanket of skin behind them, this octopus looks more like a psychedelic ghost than your typical cephalopod! Blanket octopuses have to be some of the strangest creatures we’ve run into in a long while. And they prove, yet again, that nature is filled with species we could only ever dream about!
Unlike other octopus species, you won’t find these guys–well, gals–on the ocean floor, hiding away. No, these ladies live their lives floating in the open ocean, wielding an impressive cape, and the occasional stinging tentacle of the Portuguese Man O’War for protection.
Love in the Open Ocean
Imagine if your ideal mate was the size of a walnut, and in order to find them, you had to float about the vastness of the open ocean. Oh, and then once you eventually do make contact, the tiny male just hands you his arm, floats away, and you add it to your ever-growing collection of other tiny arms.
If you were a blanket octopus, this scene would be entirely normal.
You see, blanket octopuses have one of the largest size differences between females and males in the animal kingdom—something scientists call sexual dimorphism. Females weigh up to 40,000 times more than the tiny males! And their courtship rituals are nothing less than, well, strange.
Like so many creatures of the open ocean, in order to survive, you have to find your niche. And the blanket octopus has certainly made its way into the adaptation hall of fame when you compare it to its “normal” cousins who make their home on the seafloor.
From carrying 100,000 eggs with them as they float along to being able to wield stinging stolen whips, there’s a lot to appreciate about the blanket octopus. Luckily we have the always informative SciShow to be our guide to these incredible creatures!
If you’re fascinated by all things science and looking to let your curiosity be your guide, venture over to the SciShow YouTube channel. There’s endless exploring to be done over there in every imaginable corner of the scientific universe!
Our Weird and Wonderful World!
Just when you think you’ve experienced all of the magnificent creatures on this planet, there’s another to amaze and awe you. The diversity of species here on Earth is truly astounding! Life has found a way to survive in the strangest niches around our planet.
From the depths of the jungle to the bottom of the ocean, babbling brooks to the land down under, nature has flourished into a remarkable array of shapes, sizes, and ways of life. (Take a look at a few of these articles if you want a taste of all of this wonder.)
Now, more than ever before, we can connect with all of this wonder!
Learning about what’s really happening in the natural world around us is no longer relegated to one show a week or the pages of a natural history magazine. YouTube, Vimeo, and streaming services like Netflix are flooded with incredible videos and documentaries featuring remarkable footage of the world’s rarest and most extraordinary creatures.
What would our world look like if more people shared an awe for nature?
How could we inspire young people to become biologists, scientists, and engineers?
We are living in a remarkable time, and now, access to the world around us is being opened up like never before!
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- SciShow. “The Most Incredible Octopus You’ve Never Heard of: The Blanket Octopus.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=saMq36vh9ls&feature=emb_title. Accessed 28 May 2020. ↩
Published: June 5, 2020
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