Yes, dogs, horses, cats, bears, elephants – all have had their moments of fame. But it’s not just mammals that make a splash…
1. The Kraken
This is perhaps the largest monster ever imagined. In Nordic folklore, it was said to haunt the seas from Norway through Iceland and all the way to Greenland.
The Kraken liked to ambush ships, and accounts of the critter say it could devour an entire crew in one sitting (or should that be swimming?). The first written account of the Kraken was penned in 1180 by King Sverre of Norway.
2. Squidward Tentacles
Bad-tempered, pretentious, cynical – and yet we love him, as do his pals in TV cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. From his name, you’d think Squidward must be a squid, but we’re reliably informed he’s of the octopus persuasion. This guy (who actually has six arms) was created and designed by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. Grumpy Squidward, who’s definitely not a people person, works as a cashier at the Krusty Krab restaurant.
3. Paul the Psychic Octopus
Paul was an octopus who’d been hatched at an aquatic centre at Weymouth in 2008 and lived in another centre in Oberhausen, Germany. He made his name by successfully choosing a mussel from one of two boxes bearing the flags of 2010 World Cup competing nations. Paul successfully predicted the outcome of eight matches before going to the Great Ocean in the Hereafter.
4. Squiddly Diddly
This chap is a squid (with only six tentacles) created by cartoon studio Hanna-Barbera in the Sixties. The round-headed, sailor-hatted Squiddly is captive in an aquatic park known as Bubbleland. Squiddly Diddly is an aspiring musician who makes many attempts to escape and seek musical stardom – although good-hearted Squiddly often gives Chief Winchley, who runs Bubbleland, a hand (or eight) with any problems that arise at the park.
5. Ozy the octopus
Ozy the octopus is a record-breaker after being possibly the first of his species to open a jar in less than 60 seconds at Island Bay Marine Education Centre, in Wellington, New Zealand. Ozy managed to open the jar to get his breakfast, a purple shore crab, in double-quick time. The exercise was part of preparing Ozy to hunt and problem-solve in the wild following his release. In 2012, Cassandra, another octopus at the centre, achieved the same feat – but didn’t manage it in under a minute.
6. Stretch from Toy Story 3
Stretch is purple rubbery octopus toy at Sunnyside Daycare in Toy Story 3. She has sticky suction cups on her eight tentacles and glitter all over her body. She starts out as one of Lotso the bad-guy bear’s minions but, after his true, not-so-nice nature is revealed, Stretch’s true, kindly character shines through.
7. Doctor Octopus
Marvel comic character Dr Otto Octavius isn’t, of course, really an octopus. Once a brilliant and respected nuclear physicist, inventor and lecturer, Doc Ock is now one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous foes. As Dr Octavius, he designs a set of advanced mechanical arms, attached to a harness that fits around his body, to assist him with his research into atomic physics. During an accidental radiation leak that ends in an explosion, the apparatus becomes fused to Octavius’ body. The radiation mutates his brain so that he can control the arms using his thoughts alone.
8. The Tellaro octopus
Legend has it that, centuries ago, the Italian village of Tellaro was a regular victim of piratical pillaging. One fateful night, the village’s lookout had fallen asleep when pirates approached. But a giant octopus rose from the sea to ring the church bells in the tower and alert the sleeping townspeople, who were able to escape. And now, every year the village holds a festival in the second week of August to honour its protector and commemorate the legend.
How many arms does an octopus have? Most of us would say eight. But marine experts from the Weymouth Sea Life Centre in Dorset now believe they only have six. In a new study, they found that the creatures used six of their tentacles as arms and two as legs.
But, with a few exceptions, you’d be safe to say that an octopus has eight arms and no tentacles, while squid and cuttlefish have eight arms and two tentacles. Simply, squid and cuttlefish have 10 arms, octopus have eight.
So your average cephalopod’s well able to do even big adding up, if it uses its suckers…
Q: How do fish get to school? A: By octobus!
Q: Who held the octopus to ransom? A: A squidnapper!
Q: Who robs banks and squirts ink? A: Billy the Squid!
Q: What does an octopus take on a camping trip? A: Tent-acles!