Sand Octopus Turns its Body into a Squirt Gun to Burrow

By Maddie Stone on at

In another episode of “Cephalopods are Basically the Most Amazing Creatures on Earth,” today we get an inside look at the burrowing habits of the southern sand octopus, the pressurised hose of the animal kingdom.

Unlike some of its flashier cousins, the southern sand octopus can’t change colour. Instead, when it wants to vanish, the clever critter shoots jets of water into the seafloor, carving out a hole which it then quickly pulls its body into. The octopus will remain buried all day long, slathering the sandy walls of its bunker with mucus for added support, and extending two arms toward the surface to create a “chimney.” At night, it crawls out to chow down on tiny crustaceans.

The burrowing technique is described for the first time month in the journal Behavior — which is incredible, because I could have sworn I saw this in The Matrix 16 years ago.

[Read the full scientific paper at Behavior h/t New Scientist]