Nov 21 2011

Amphibious assault troops in training

Soon, we’ll be able to reach you anywhere.

And no, your precious cats will not be able to save you.

(Also on Sb)


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  1. 1

    Egads! Only our sushi chefs can protect us now!

  2. 2

    Your troops may have some problems when they reach hedgerow country.

  3. 3

    Have you seen my cat? >:-)

  4. 4

    Can the Octopus actually “breath” air?!
    Was it “holding” its breath?!

  5. 5
    M can help you with that.

    We’ve already seen the shock troops of the Amphibious Invertebrate Assault — coconut crabs!

  6. 6
    Glen Davidson

    I was oozing on the land one day…

    Glen Davidson

  7. 7
    Nick Gotts

    It’s a sign! The return of Cthulu is nigh! Let xe who would be eaten first plead for swift deliverance!

  8. 8
    Sean Boyd

    My cat SAVE me? My cat would probably help your octo-warrior out.

  9. 9

    My precious cats would bravely run away from that.

  10. 10

    Now where was this taped? I’ll just bet it was the Mothering Sunday Islands.

  11. 11
    Phoenician in a time of Romans

    Oh God – it’s teh Pacific Arboreal Octopus!

  12. 12

    Oh my!…I’ve locked the door! – a delaying tactic at best…

  13. 13

    Was it ok? I always worry when I see things like this.

  14. 14

    When cephalopods learn how to work can openers, cats will worship them.

  15. 15

    Wow. I wonder how it feels to be an octopus and have all those giant creatures darting out of your way, then standing around to admire you.

    Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is on the San Francisco Bay peninsula south of San Francisco, California, USA. It has wonderful tide pools and fascinating geology. Make a point of visiting it (at low tide — search online) if you’re ever in the area.

  16. 16

    For those without a clue what Phoenician is on about here’s a link:

  17. 17
    Brain Hertz

    Possibly dumb question: how does it respirate?

  18. 18

    The Pacific Northwest Octopus is great just grilled and salted with a squeeze of lemon. Kitteh prefers the octopus raw though.

  19. 19

    I’m in Alberta. Any cephlapod that get to me on this side of the rockie mountains in the winter ain’t gonna be afraid of my kids’ cats. Unlike the chocolate lab next door. Bring it on mighty mollusk if you dare!

  20. 20

    Did…. did that Octopus just give those people a crab?

  21. 21
    myeck waters

    That video was much cooler when it was called “Yog, the Monster From Space”.

  22. 22

    I was worried there for a moment, glad it made it back to the water safely.

  23. 23

    Alan @ 16:

    I especially love that site for “The Truth About Black Helicopters”

  24. 24

    Look at the cute octopussy. It even fetches crabs!
    Does it purr if you rub it’s tummy? Where is it’s tummy?

  25. 25

    Well that scenario with the landlubber octopuses in The Future Is Wild just got a bit more plausible: you can see the critter is really pulling its weight albeit jerkily. Last time I saw footage of these plying tide pools they didn’t try to bunch themselves together this much.

    @joed and Brain Hertz: If air was always still at 100% humidity, it would avoid desiccation of respiratory surfaces, and that being the case most sea critters would have an easier time breathing air, http://aquaplant.tamu.edu/faq/dissolved-oxygen/ .
    Though this doesn’t invalidate that the mollusk above would have to struggle to breathe as it’s no longer buoyant.
    So the octopus is probably getting a good portion of oxygen by diffusion through the skin as long as the latter is moist and keeping water around the gills to avoid drying them out and provide for the respiration of the bulkier parts of its body.

  26. 26

    You did note how small that octopus was?

  27. 27

    Dracontes @25
    Thank you, I think.
    i have heard that other lungless criters absorb 02 through their skin.
    the vidi is phenomenal isn’t it! Like what motivated the octi to leave the water. Perhaps it has done this before and “knows” the problems involved.
    And, what’s the deal with the crab.

  28. 28

    Clearly a minion of our tentacled overlords.
    But someone should tell him that R’lyeh is the other way.

  29. 29
    Alex Besogonov


    Yes, it can breathe – even fish can breathe in the air. Fish die quickly because their gills can’t pump air efficiently. If you provide them artificial ventilation they will die a little bit later because of gills drying up.

    Octopodes won’t be able to breathe efficiently (they lack a skeleton, after all), but maybe they can do it a little better than fish.

  30. 30
    Lord Autumnbottom

    I still prefer them to zombies

  31. 31

    Wow, it’s a real-live swampus – only a 100 million years early!

    Evolution… it works bitches!


  32. 32
    theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade

    @ PZ

    Oh Yeah? Well bring it on octopods, teh quadrupeds are gonna bring teh fight to ya’ all: Linky to amphibious feline in training. Now there’s nowhere you can run skulk to.

    /hit-em-where-they-live ™

    @ tony

    Evolution… it works bitches!

    I beg your pardon … could you correct that last word.

  33. 33

    I live near this marine reserve and have seen some cool stuff there, but never this cool.

  34. 34

    Reminds me of when kitteh would bring us a well chewed rodent or lizard . . . and she looked so proud of her gift as she glorped back into the briny deep. Awesome.

  35. 35
    Phoenician in a time of Romans

    For those without a clue what Phoenician is on about here’s a link:

    Fine, smart-ass – how about I refer to it engaging in the religious ritual known as “Touching the Sky”?

    Track THAT reference down, why don’t you?

  36. 36

    Absolutely marvelous!

  37. 37
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    And for those who like tree octopuses, for an Australia flavour, I introduce the Drop Bear page from the Australian Museum.

  38. 38


    Tony is referencing this.

  39. 39


    Fine, smart-ass

    Track THAT reference down, why don’t you?

    What, exactly, is your problem, Cupcake? If you want to think you’re the only person on the ‘net who is aware of memes, tropes and other stuff, set up your own blog with comments disabled so you can pretend you’re witty and the only person who gets references.

  40. 40
    Monado, Deployer of Precision F-Strikes

    I was watching a TV show about China and one of the scenes was an open-air fish market in a rainstorm. One octopus bravely escaped from its bin and was sturdily oozing away across the road when someone scooped it up and recaptured it. I felt sorry for the octopus.

  41. 41
    Jason Stokes

    @Brain Hertz

    Octopuses can only breathe on land for so long as they remain wet. They respirate through their skin, gills, mantle and, additionally, use their siphon to pump water through their gill system. So long as there is water in their siphon, they can pump the water gently, filtering oxygen into the water and delivering the oxygenated water to their gills. That, combined with skin absorption, which I suspect might even be more efficient in air than in water, allows an octopus to survive for quite a long time out of the water. The largest octopuses have been known to climb out of their tanks when they get bored and hide in crannies for hours at a time.

  42. 42
    Jason Stokes

    “The largest octopuses have been known to climb out of their tanks when they get bored and hide in crannies for hours at a time.”

    I meant to say, “in aquariums the largest…”

  43. 43

    you’d be amazed at what my cats are willing to try to kill.

  44. 44

    Only now I watched the video with more attention. That is some weird behaviour…

    My guess, at first, was that the octopus was startled out of the water after it finished killing the crab and tried to find a deeper tide pool to hide in what with the humans milling about. Then the octopus dropped the crab when it was too tired to continue carrying it and/or felt the crab wasn’t something worth losing its life over.

    As vertebrates we’re probably poor judges of molluscan reactions but now the animal doesn’t seem that startled. This is probably something worth looking into just to make sure it’s not what might be construed as an intelligent reaction.

  45. 45
    theophontes, Hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane Wielding Tardigrade

    @ idonotknow


    I see I shall have to drag ol’ Randall in for a session on teh Spanking Couch ™….

    @ Monado

    I live next door to just such a wet market. Half the creatures are very much alive and flapping. Who would eat anything if the head is not on the plate looking back at you?
    Example (Warning, quite gross): Live fried fish.

  46. 46

    What I love about this is that it is probably exactly how the first animals came onto land. This octopus is using appendages that originally evolved for hunting to motivate itself across an alien environment. Features that it already has are being used for other functions. There’s no way to know that cephalopods will actually ever evolve for the terrestrial environment, but if they do it’s clear that the tentacles will be used to do so, and the first steps look like this, and maybe actually are this/

    The first animals on land had the advantage that there were no predators on land further along in terrestrial evolution. This octopus was clear extremely vulnerable, but seemed to do okay nonetheless. In this case that’s probably because it had it’s own terrestrial guardians teeming around it, but this behaviour almost certainly occurs when no one is around to watch.

  47. 47

    My guess is that it was the crab that (not yet killed by the octopus’s venom) dragged the octopus onto land in trying to save itself. After that, as what Dracontes (#44) says: “Then the octopus dropped the crab when it was too tired to continue carrying it and/or felt the crab wasn’t something worth losing its life over.”

  48. 48

    The major problem with trying to breathe air with gills is not so much the pumping or the drying out, but rather the collapse of fine structure and consequent loss of respiratory surface area. Skin is presumably equally useful as a respiratory in water or air. There’s more oxygen in air than in water, but this compensates only partly for the limited area available for oxygen diffusion.
    All that vigorous movement is almost certainly being powered anaerobically anyway, so breathing is probably unimportant over the 3 minutes of the vid. Afterwards is when it has to breathe, resting in a hole someplace to metabolize all that nasty octopine and whatever.

  49. 49

    …as a respiratory organ in…

  50. 50

    Wow. You could literally see the octopus getting less and less clumsy as time went on. It was LEARNING! And quick!

  51. 51
    Phoenician in a time of Romans

    What, exactly, is your problem, Cupcake?

    I have to remember that tone doesn’t come across well on the Internet. No problem whatsoever – I was just laying down a real challenge for people’s obscure-reference-finding skills.

  52. 52

    I may be reading too much into its behavior, but it looked like at one point it decided it had had enough of land, reared up as high as it could with its unaccustomed weight, and oriented itself to shore. Then it changed direction and went back to the water.

  53. 53
    William Bell

    Wait till my bird sees it.

  54. 54

    While an octopus can get some oxygen through its skin if it remains wet more than likely the octopus also trapped water inside it’s mantle (which is often mistaken as the head) where it’s gills are located – kind of like a natural SCUBA tank for octopus; or would that be SCABA tank?

  55. 55

    “Touching the sky”? I dunno, but it kind of brings to mind the great James Blish story “Surface Tension”, or another story from that setting. I don’t remember if that language was used.

    Of course there’s “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” (Star Trek), but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you were going for.

  56. 56

    Holy shit! That’s kinda like seeing evolution in action.

    Well, I for one would like to be the first to welcome our future amphibian overlords.

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