The octopus is a member of the Octopoda order, a group of marine animals that have captured the imaginations of seafarers for thousands of years. The ancient Minoans, who predate the Ancient Greeks, painted eight-legged creatures in their murals. Ancient Hawaiians believed octopuses were aliens.
There are about three hundred species of octopus in the Cephalopoda class, including squid, cuttlefish, and many others. Cephalopods are mollusks with no inner skeleton, so they can squeeze into very tight spaces. This ability to change shape and hide adds to their mystique as marine monsters. The giant Pacific octopus can seem like a monster to the many sailors that have navigated the world's oceans.
- Octopuses get their name from "oct," a prefix meaning the number eight.
- They have a mouth at their center mass with a sharp beak-like jaw for eating other fish.
- Octopuses swim by expelling water in a siphon that moves them quickly through the water.
- Like other cephalopods, octopuses are bilaterally symmetrical, the description for an animal with a mouth and eyes at the center with legs portending outward.
- Octopus and squid are different animals that look so similar that ancient mariners feared them. Thus, the giant squid and giant octopus became the sea monsters of lore.
- The biggest Giant Pacific octopus on record measured 30 feet from tip to tip along two tentacles. The largest squid– 44 feet tip to tip.
- Octopuses use ink for defense, like a smoke screen, and to get away from predators.
- There are three different words for more than one octopus: octopi, octopuses, and octopodes.
- Octopuses have eight tentacles with hundreds of suction cups on each.
- With one of the largest brain-to-body mass ratios, Octopuses are one of the most intelligent marine animals.