96-Tentacled Octopus

On July 10, 2014 by Tim Newman

Octopus 9 tentacles

As the name suggests an octopus generally has 8 tentacles (or arms as they’re supposed to be called) and that’s normally the way it goes. Nature is good with numbers it seems and if you’re supposed to have 8 of something, you generally get 8. Life is a solid designer en general.  (FYI a squid has 10).

It’s not always the case though, throughout natural history there are always going to be freaks, or to be a little more PC – “weirdos”. It’s very rare to get an octopus with any more than its apportioned 8, but sometimes, for some reason, it does happen.

At Shima Marineland Aquarium they house a 96-tentacled octopus that was caught in nearby waters. It was alive when it reached the centre, lived for around 5 months and even managed to lay some eggs. Its progeny were all 8 tentacled, here she is:

Octopus 96 tentacles Shima Marineland Aquarium laying eggs

The Toba aquarium also has some multi-tentacled wonders like the 85-tentacled nutter below. This specimen was caught near Toshijima Island in 1957 (so well before Fukushima in case you were wondering). This octopus has the normal 8 arms like you would expect but then each of them tails off into a myriad of smaller ones. Madness:

Octopus 85 Arms Toba Japan

I think this is the same guy:

Octopus-96 -Arms-Toba-Japan

One possible explanation for the swathes of tentacles is that the octopi in question sustained injuries causing them to grow back all wonky. It might be similar to the way in which a lizard can sometimes grow multiple tails. Lizard’s tails are built so that if they’re grabbed by a predator they come off pretty easily (autotomy) and grow back at a later date.

Animal Collection in LAZERHORSE.ORG

If a lizard’s tail is given a yank but doesn’t quite come all the way off and is left dangling by a thread, it can end up growing a second tail whilst the partially attached one is still present. Like this:

2 Tailed Lizard - Autotomy

… and if that happens a number of times you get something that looks like this:



I’m sure the processes are entirely different in an octopus but maybe there’s something in that theory. It hardly seems worth showing this last one after those two well tentacled goons, but here’s one with nine tentacles found at a sea food market in Marugame, Japan. If you’re having a hard time finding the octopus in the picture, the guy on the left is pointing at it:

Octopus 9 tentacles Marugame seafood market







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