The wonders of nature never cease to amaze
31 Mayo 2018 13:02
Watching the birth of an animal is always a fascinating and awe-inspiring experience. It's not every day that you witness the beginning of another creature's life, particularly if it's one with which you haven't had much interaction, either due to its own rarity and exoticness, where you live, or both.
For some of the more common animals, particularly mammals and birds, we know exactly what to expect regardless of their species, with a few notable exceptions. Most mammals have their females give birth to a live baby, which they then sustain through breastfeeding.
Birds, on the other hand, lay fertilised eggs that they then incubate over a period of time until their chicks are strong enough to break through the shell of the egg and draw their first breath in the outside world. Then, the mama bird regurgitates food to feed her chicks mouth-to-mouth.
What about all the other creatures that roam in our planet's hugely diverse ecosystems, though? Well, this video seeks to answer this question for at least one animal. It shows what looks like a beautiful white flower with black spots, its petals gently floating underwater.
Suddenly, one of the 'petals' comes loose from the rest of the 'flower' to reveal that it's actually the body of a minuscule octopus, and the two black spots are its eyes. Making its first few swim strokes into the real world, the tiny cephalopod changes into a dark brown colour and vanishes from the scene, ready for whatever's in store.
The octopus' reproductive habits are unique. Both the male and female octopus die not long after they mate — a few months after mating for the male and right after the eggs hatch for the female. The male inserts its hectocotylus, a special arm that holds rows of sperm, into the female's oviduct or removes it to give it to her for storage until later. If she has kept it stored in her mantle, she 'sprinkles' the sperm over her eggs to fertilise them after she lays them.
From then on, the expectant mother's only purpose is to protect her eggs. She doesn't eat and regularly blows currents to keep them safe from debris and potential predators. The eggs take between two to ten months to hatch, depending on the species of the octopus.
However, once the babies hatch, their mother is gone. So the little tykes are left to fend for themselves in the cruel, cold underwater world. In fact, a source suggests that, from every new batch of giant Pacific octopus hatchlings, a mere 1% survives. Once again, dependent on what species they are, the hatchlings could either start off as tiny, almost invisible, dots that float near the water's surface until they grow bigger and stronger, or as larger creatures closer to the bottom of the ocean.
Did you know that the plural of the word octopus, which comes from the ancient Greek word that literally means 'eight-legs', used to be 'octopodes'?