Friday Cephalopod: Explicit!

Octopus cyanea

You may be wondering what they’re doing. Here’s a hint: that’s a male below, and a female above. Here’s another hint: that’s his specialized third arm, the hectocotyl limb. Third hint: it’s in her oviduct.

If you can’t figure it out yet, look below the fold for an illustration.

Figure from Cephalopods: A World Guide (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Mark Norman.



  1. Colin says

    What a typical octoguy! You’d think with eight arms he could spare at least one for foreplay! But no, he just reaches over and sticks his hectocotyl limb right in there.

  2. Eliza says

    Ok, I’m confused. Here’s what I see – correct me where I’m wrong! The male is the dark redish thing at the bottom of the picture. The female looks like a mound of Ghostbuster-style ectoplasm, and is sat on top of a rock, and is biting it with very human-looking teeth (!). The male is stretching up to the female with his ‘specialized 3rd arm’, and is attempting to swat a pufferfish from her head (or whatever that part of her is). The pufferfish, understandably slightly alarmed by this, has puffed up in response.
    Is that about right?

  3. Alex says

    You’re close. It’s not a “pufferfish”, it’s called a “flufferfiish”. It’s a very specialized species.

  4. CCP says

    birds Do It
    bees Do It

    octopuses Do It (well…yeah…sorta)

    Australian lungfishes Do It (but not for long)

  5. says

    You’re close. It’s not a “pufferfish”, it’s called a “flufferfiish”. It’s a very specialized species.

    Dear sweet Jeebus, Alex.

    I think I need to wash my brain, now.

  6. PierreB says


    Yes, there is a security setting in Firefox that blocks media that is not from the same website as the rest of the page.

    Go to: Tools,Options,Content
    The checkbox “Load Images from originating website only” shouldn’t be checked.

  7. says

    Hmmm … I have “Load images” enabled, but NOT “for the originating Web site only.” I think it’s a page-rendering problem. For example, I can see the caption Octopus cyanea at the top of the article. The HTML for the caption only has this:

    Octopus cyanea

    There’s no tag in the HTML, hence no image.

  8. says

    Sorry about that. I need to encode the HTML. Let’s try it this way:

    <div class=”captionedfigure”> <br /><i>Octopus cyanea</i></div>

  9. says

    That’s very weird. There is an image tag in there, really there is.

    I’ve jiggered some of the parameters in the tag a little. Tell me if it works for you now.

  10. says

    I can tell you that this is what is actually in there:

    <div class=”captionedfigure”><img src=”” alt=”octopus_cyanea.jpg” width=”400″ height=”664″ /><br /><i>Octopus cyanea</i></div>

    It’s not computer generated or anything — I typed that code in by hand. I really do suspect that it’s something on your end that strips out img tags for some reason.

  11. says

    Hey – both the photo and the, um, educational comic are showing up in IE today!

    I’ll check in again later tonight with FireFox and see if it shows up there.

  12. Austin Sipes says

    I’m having the same issue in Firefox, and I don’t have any weird settings that I know of, either.

  13. hank says

    Firefox — use the Advanced button to the right of the Load Images area.
    Paste in and click ‘Allow’
    I don’t know why sometimes you need to explicitly allow it, but it can solve the problem regardless of how your other options are set.