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OCTOPI


octopus3I have long been an admirer of the octopus. As a small child in Long Beach, playing daily in the breakwater, my mother warned me against the unassuming creatures, telling me to stay away from the rocks where they lived. She had taken me to a terrifying movie where the antagonist was a giant octopus who took over a lighthouse, and I envisioned giant octopi waiting patiently to grab little children who didn’t mind their mothers. I think she was more afraid of them than I.

The cephalopods are very old and have slipped through many shapes through their history. They are the wisest of the mollusks, and I have always felt it to be just as well that they never came ashore. Just think of the havoc they would cause running around in downtown New York with all eight arms signaling for a taxi.

It is true that the animals are rather odd looking, but then many of us wouldn’t win a beauty contest either. It gives one a feeling of confidence to see that Nature is still busy with experiments and is not satisfied because a Devonian fish managed to end as a two-legged character with a straw hat.

octopus2

Ringo Starr of Beatle fame, wrote a charming little song called “The Octopus Garden”. The truth is that the octopus slides along the bottom collecting pebbles with which it builds underwater gardens. Perhaps this is an ancient memory guiding us to tend our human gardens.

Other than that, what has the octopus actually done to better the world? Its body looks like a bag and its feet are on its head, and it has no bones. On the other hand, it has three hearts which could prove advantageous to those of us whose single heart proves unreliable. It also has excellent eyesight and a well-developed brain both of which could have been an improvement in the human species.

It pays to know that Nature is not finished and that there is still hope for the human race.

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12 comments on “OCTOPI

  1. I love the way they move through the water, very elegant and mesmerizing.

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  2. I remember someone keeping an octopus as a pet. It used to clamber out of the aquarium, roam around the house early in the morning and wake up its owner so she would give the animal its breakfast. They are very intelligent and wise beyond their years..

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  3. How I laughed at the thought of an octopus trying to hail a cab! The quilted Octopus’s Garden is wonderful, too. 🙂

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  4. I’ve never thought what the song could mean. How amazing that they build pebble gardens!

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  5. My mother always told me never to put any pebbles in my mouth when I was in the water because they were octopus eggs and I, might swallow one and it would hatch in my tummy! What ever gave her the idea that there were pebbles in the ocean and what they had to do with octopi I’ll never know.

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  6. Actually, having an octopus buddy to help with getting a cab might be a fine idea.

    I had absolutely no idea they truly build little “gardens”. In fact, I was so completely taken by the thought that I went off searching, and found a video showing them collecting coconut shells to use as body armor. Ten minutes ago I disbelieved Gerard’s little tale about the octopus leaving its tank to claim breakfast. Apologies to Gerard. I just read about one that disassembled its tank in a museum.

    I do believe the octopi could compete nicely with the armadillo as my favorite strange critter. I do like that three heart business. If one is broken, the others could carry on while it recovers.

    Now I’m off to listen to the Beatles’ song. I’ll probably whistle it all day at work.

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  7. I loved the video! I missed that one the first time around. Funny that Ringo knew all about the garden building. There’s more to him than drumming, as if that weren’t enough. Armadillos are cute, but what can they really do? The octopus escape trick is clever, but I don’t think I want a giant octopus waking me up from a sound sleep.

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