Five For Friday: The Octopus

1. More Love to Go Around. Octopodes (yes, this is one of 3 accepted plural forms of “octopus”) have three hearts. Two hearts pump blood to the gills while the third heart pumps blood to the rest of the body. Side note: Octopuses have blue blood like that of the horseshoe crab.

2. Aristotle Was Wrong. “The octopus is a stupid creature”, he wrote. However, screw-on lids, vast mazes and hidden locations of food are no match for these stunning cephalopods. An octopus’s arms, rather than its brain, contain two-thirds of its neurons. It is as if each arm has a mind of its own.

3. Shapeshifter. Utilizing a highly complex form of shapeshifting for both hunting, hiding and communication, an octopus can change its color, shape and even texture to mimic other sea creatures. Octopuses have been shown to mimic choral, algae, flatfish, flounder, seasnakes, lionfish and even the ocean floor. Three different layers of three different cells, called chromatophores, located near the skin’s surface are responsible for these out-of-this-world transformations. The center of each chromatophore contains an elastic sac full of pigment. Similar to a ballon full of ink, these cells can expand or contract to control the brilliance of the color. This technique is similar to an impressionist painting. Think of each chromatophore as each paint stroke in a Monét painting.

4. The Ink. You probably already know that an octopus will expel a cloud of ink to “smoke-screen” a predator. However, the ink’s duty is thee-fold. 1. The ink dispersion can confuse and even frighten the predator. 2. The ink itself is a sight and smell diffuser. 3. The ink clouds the water to allow time for the octopus to get away.

5. Talkin’ About My Regeneration. Octopus can, and often do, lose an arm or two out there in the great blue yonder. Have no fear, they are able to regrow another in its place.


featured art:
“The Weight of the World”
acrylic and latex paint on canvas
48 x 72 inches

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