Friday Cephalopod: Blinking lights! Wings! It’s an alien spacecraft!

I still dream about cephalopods, even if the arachnids are snaring most of my attention.

Don’t you love seeing how science is done?

I have a few fossil molluscs from the Devonian — they’re fairly common orthocerids, these cone-shaped shells that once housed mighty ancient cephalopods. Mine are small, but some of these shells get to be 5 or more meters long. We have to imagine big eyes and swarms of arms writhing out of the broad end of the cone, because those squishy bits don’t fossilize well. Well, not just imagine, because we do have data that lets us reasonably infer what the animal looked like. Here’s an excellent post that describes how this kind of reconstruction of Endoceras was done.

That’s not guesswork. Using trace fossils and phylogenetic bracketing and assembling bits of evidence from multiple specimens, you can make an informed estimation of the main features of the animal.

And it is awesome. Bring ’em back.

Don’t blame the octopus

This poor woman thought it would be funny to pose for a photo with a small octopus on her face. The octopus disagreed, and bit her.

“And I’m still in pain,” said Bisceglia. “I’m on three different antibiotics. This can come and go, the swelling, for months they say.” She says the whole painful experience taught her a valuable lesson about handling a live octopus.

“This was not a good idea,” said Bisceglia. “I will never do it again.”

That’s one reason they have venoms, you know, besides streamlining the killing of prey. Never do it again. Also, tell all your friends if you survive that they shouldn’t disturb the octopus.

Isn’t evolution grand?

Pulp artists needed cephalopod anatomy lessons

I am OFFENDED. There’s this collection of pulp magazine covers featuring cephalopods, and they’re terrible.

Look at this one: I have a thousand questions. Why are they exploring an alien planet in skimpy clothes? Why is the man wearing a space helmet, but the woman apparently doesn’t need one? Why does the cephalopod have its mouth in the wrong place, and why does it have teeth?

Nice headlights, octopus-man. Also, why is his human face a couple of stories tall? Does the artist know nothing of perspective?

This is the worst one of them all. It’s asymmetric, with some arms on the left improbably long, while the ones on the right looking different. It’s got this hunchbacked, bug-like look with appendages coming off the mantle. This was drawn by a person who apparently never saw a cephalopod.

I swear, I’m going to stop this time-machine and turn it back 70 years just so I can slap a couple of bad artists.

Friday Cephalopod: Do not taunt the octopuses while they are invading

They’ve established a beachhead in Wales, where swarms of cephalopods have begun their march inland.

Hey, lady! Yeah, you with the white nail polish! Do not tickle and mock Squad Captain Oi’sh’sh’schlick! We see you, we’re marking you down as a target!

When the marine squadrons link up with the spider cavalry, they’re going to be unstoppable.