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This Octopus Creates a Seashell Suit of Armor to Hide from a Shark

This Octopus Creates a Seashell Suit of Armor to Hide from a Shark

Sure, Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit is pretty badass with all of its repulsors and Pulse Bolts and Unibeams and whatnot, but you know what is just as badass? A suit of armor made of seashells and kelp and some other random stuff found on the floor of the ocean. Maybe by itself it isn’t so impressive, but it is when you consider the fact that it was made on the fly by an octopus who was dodging (and maybe even playing with?) an attacking pyjama shark.

The clips of Iron Octopus, or really Calcium Carbonate Octopus, outsmarting its shark predator come from the “Green Seas” episode of Blue Planet II, the nature documentary presented and narrated by Sir David Attenborough. They feature an especially intelligent female common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) who was found off the southern tip of South Africa in waters containing one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, including 100 different species of shark.

As Kathryn Jeffs, the episode’s producer, notes in a behind-the-scenes post, the Blue Planet II film crew, following one very experienced local naturalist, spent a year hanging out in this specific region to get acquainted with all the sea life, but found that this particular little octopus “seemed particularly bold” and demonstrated “real skill” in avoiding becoming prey.

Not only did the smart, spunky cephalopod manage to create armor out of shells — which was behavior that had never even been recorded before — but she also managed to totally disarm the same attacking shark when it finally had her head within chomping distance by plugging up its gills with her tentacles so it couldn’t breathe. Which seems unbelievably crafty, even for a species that’s known for being unbelievably crafty.

Now, of course it would be absurd to suggest that this octopus was playing with its predator the way, say, the Roadrunner plays with Wile E. Coyote, but octopuses are really dang smart. And doesn’t it seem like this octopus is doing all this just for the fun of it?

What do you think about this little playful Iron Octopus? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: NOAA

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