Unbelievable Truth: Octopus


This is a short lecture that is entirely false save for five pieces of true information which are cunningly concealed amongst the lies. Today’s subject is the octopus, described by our encyclopaedia as a carnivorous marine mollusc known for its eight long tentacles, rounded soft body and ink.

Let’s start with the basics. The correct plural of octopus is in fact octopodes, as in the Byron poem:

Whilst swimming off the coast of Rhodes
I spied a shoal of octopodes

As for octopi, well, the octopi is the name of the best selling snack at the Athens branch of Greggs.

The male adult octopus is very closely related to the male adult human in that its testicles are located in its head. In fact, the octopus is also one of the most dangerous creatures in the sea. If coral reefs had shopping centers the octopus would be hanging out outside them wearing hoodies and shouting insults at the passing plankton.

The octopus loves nothing more than a fight. Using tiny coconut shells as armour and breaking off the stings of Portuguese man o’war to use as makeshift knives. If you ever mess with an octopus you are likely to wake up with a seahorse’s head in your bed.

Shelley famously wrote:

Fishes, lizards, frogs and toads
are terrified of octopodes

In fact, the octopus actually has many useful skills: for example its secretions are more effective than household bleach at cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, an octopus can also undo the lid of the screw-top jar though in my defence I think I loosened it first.

Perhaps the crowning skill of the octopus however is how it responses to fear. If an octopus is threatened by, say, a shark with a gun or dinner party where it doesn’t want to go to, it does a very neat trick. The octopus has been known to actually eat itself. As Tennyson wrote:

As trouble brews and terror bodes
They self-ingest, the octopodes


See other: Unbelievable Truth Posts

PS Consult the comment section to find out the truths.

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2 thoughts on “Unbelievable Truth: Octopus

  1. 1. There are two correct plurals for octopus: octopodes or octopuses.

    2. The octopus’s body comprises nothing but a head and tentacles. Also found in the head are the stomach, heart, kidney, ink sack, brain and anus.

    3. The blanket octopus is immune to the Portuguese man o’war sting so it would rip off its sting tentacles and carry them around using them as a weapon.

    4. Octopuses, or octopodes can open jars by pressing their body onto the lid and grasping the side with their rear tentacles. And some of them even manage to open child-proof lids on some medicine bottles.

    5. The octopus has been known to actually eat itself. Many octopuses have been observed to eat their own arms and it was once believed the octopus did this due to stress disorder. It’s now thought to be the result of the neurological disorder prompted by a virus.

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