Impressionists in the Ocean

Genesis 1:20

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”

It is reputed that the biggest ever TV audience for a light entertainment show in Britain was Mike Yarwood’s Christmas Show in 1977, with an audience of 21.4 million – 38% of the population at the time. Yarwood – probably completely unknown in the US – was a comedian whose humor consisted in his uncanny ability to impersonate well-known people. There has probably never been an impressionist more able to both look and sound like his subjects than Yarwood, well-known during the 60s and 70s for his impersonations of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath – leaders of the two main political parties in Britain at the time.

Yet Yarwood’s skills pale into insignificance when compared to those of the mimic octopus. This amazing creature seems to specialize in impersonating venomous sea creatures. For example, it partially hides its body and six legs while stretching out and moving the other two legs to impersonate a sea snake. It can swim up to the surface and down again with a motion closely resembling a jellyfish. Flattening itself and trailing its legs behind, it looks like a banded sole. And perhaps most spectacularly, it makes its tentacles look like the barbs of a lionfish. It can even change color in order to assist with these impressions.

It is notable that Wikipedia’s article currently, unusually, has no section explaining the creature’s evolution. Clearly, the mimicry is advantageous to the octopus, but this does not explain how it could develop. This is clearly a wonderful design feature, produced by the wonderful Creator.

Prayer: We continue to marvel and be amazed, Lord God, at the wonders of Your creative designs. Amen.

Author: Paul F. Taylor

Ref: Smith, C., The Mimic Octopus, Creation 38 (3):12–14—July 2016.  Image: CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic.

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