A while back I stumbled on the video below about Thaumoctopus mimicus, or the Mimic Octopus. Discovered in 1998, the Mimic Octopus is unique in that it doesn’t simply manipulate its physical features to blend in to its surroundings in order to escape predators. Instead, the Mimic Octopus manipulates it’s physical appearance in order to look like its predators’ predators.
We tend to think of physical appearance as a reliable signal, particularly in the animal world. Humans can manipulate their physical appearance quite readily, either through cosmetics or surgery. But animals are generally more restricted. Some have evolved with physical markers that are difficult to manipulate. However, I am not aware of many animals that can mimic the physical appearance of their predators’ predators. It’s amazing to think that the octopus not only has this incredible physical power, but the mental ability to think strategically–to match their physical appearance with a specific predator based on what adversary they are dealing with.