Have you noted how very, very few land-based animals (well, okay, call it none) have tentacles? I mean the kind that wrap around throats and slowly throttle the oxygen out of them. So far as we know, it’s only the ocean-based cephalopods that have these.

I suspect this is because they’re not really muscle-based (through the contraction of tissue), but more hydralic-based (fluid entering or leaving a reservoir). This would tend to limit their usability when not supported by a totally aqueous environment. Naturally, I’m completely guessing, due to the fact that I don’t know and am too lazy to look it up.

This is probably close to one of those arguments against giant ants (there’s a size limitation when you have an exoskeleton). However, I’m not really interested in making arguments against giant ants, they tend to get miffed and you know how that ends up.

UPDATE: Cullen notes that octopi can use their tentacles effectively in the open air. Indeed, I have heard that octopi can cross large stretches of dry land to get from one tide pool to another. However, they’re still sea-based creatures; the ability to operate effectively in an alien environment does not make one a master of that environment, any more than a man who can hold his breath underwater for more than five minutes should expect a call from Superman asking him to join the Justice League. I accord Cullen full marks for accuracy, but maintain that there aren’t any land-based creatures who have (offensively effective) tentacles.

Cullen also notes that octopi are cool. And he gets no argument from me, since he’s right. I’ll go a step further, and say that all cephalopods are cool. There was a news story a couple of years ago where a Japanese sub managed to film a giant squid in its native habitat. If you know anything about the giant squid, you know that the only specimens we’ve ever studied or scrutinized have been sick or dead.

If you know anything about me, you’ll understand when I say that was Story of the Year as far as I was concerned.

Cephalopods rule. Some of my earliest memories concern looking in Time-Life books and seeing paintings of sperm whale-giant squid battles. I know, that as a fellow mammal, I’m supposed to “vote” for the whale. But the squid is both so alien, and yet so right, so familiar.

It would not surprise me if I was one of them. Tossed here on the drylands to observe you all, and make regular reports.

So shape up.

Cullen, your membership card should be in the mail. Yes, it’s snail mail. We like that joke too.

3 thoughts on “Tentacles

  1. Octopi have been known to leave their tanks, crawl across countertops, and open jars in order to get food, so they do get some use out of them out of water.

    Not sure if this information is of use, but I like octopi because of this. They’re cool.

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