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The mimic octopus, or my new favorite mollusk (Sorry, Paul!)

The mimic octopus cannot imitate the old Detroit Red Wings playoff mascot. (John C. Hillery/Reuters)

Now that the tears have dried over poor Paul the psychic octopus's death, a new video has surfaced online to fill the hole Paul left in all of our hearts.

This octopus might not be able to pick the winner of a soccer game, but it can contort itself into 15 different shapes, change its colors and textures, and assume the appearance of other animals it has observed. Its a veritable master of disguise.

Also, many animals do use camouflage to defend against prey, but they often imitate solid objects. Whereas "the mimic octopus makes itself look like a living, breathing animal," said Mark Norman the senior curator of the Melbourne Museum in Australia, who first studied the octopus.

This is helpful, since as Maggie Koerth-Baker writes at Boing Boing, "Octopuses are basically balls of delicious protein. And, unlike their cousins, the mollusks, they don't have protective shells. So they're fair game for just about anything with an appetite."

Unless they can turn into just about anything, that is.

By Melissa Bell  | October 29, 2010; 1:29 PM ET
Categories:  Picture Shows  
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