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What do you do to protect yourself if you are a yummy, and yet vulnerable, soft-bodied octopus roaming around the open sea floor? You become a master of disguise. It is well known that octopuses are surprisingly intelligent and have an impressive knack for camouflaging their skin to match their surroundings. In recent years, however, scientists have begun to recognize that the octopus can take this a step further by mimicking other animals, algae or inanimate objects.

Recently, researcher Roger Hanlon and his co-authors from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, have discovered that the sand-dwelling octopus Macrotritopus defilippi can mimic the swimming behavior and coloration of a common flatfish species. In this video an octopus swims with its body against the sea floor and it’s legs trailing behind.

In 2005, Christine Huffard and co-authors, from the University of California, Berkeley and Universitas Sam Ratulangi, Indonesia, found that an octopus species in Indonesia (Octopus marginatus) can ‘walk’ on two legs to mimic a coconut.

Apparently, it is not uncommon to find coconuts rolling on the seafloor in the region. In addition, the same team observed octopuses of the species Octopus aculeatus walking like floating algae in Australia.

Video source: Roger Hanlon

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