Scientists declare octopi life from another world


Should we start calling them The Old Ones or something?


English: Octopuses
Sort-of-Greek: Octopodes
Sort-of-Greek with Latin plural: Octopi
English but pretending to know Latin: Octopi
English and watches Steven Fry on the telly: Octopodes
Modern Greek octopus chtapodi, plural chtapodia.

As well as being hella pretentious “I bet your school didn’t even do Greek, har-har” I am not sure ‘octopodes’ is right either. If octopus = okto “eight” (see eight) + pous “foot”, then octopodes = “eight feet” and not “eight-footers”. I tried finding out what the Greek for ‘eights’ was but the web is so filled with octopus plural wars that I could not find an answer.

That has probably saved the world from another octopus plural, hooray.


I’m not sure I’d welcome my new overlord whatever these turned out to be. If karma has any sway in some of these dimensions a lot of us are going to be eaten.


octopus + octopus = hexadecipus


As you can see, the best-attested (ancient) Greek forms referring to the animal are “πολύπους” and ὀκτάπους;" not “ὀκτώπους” as one would expect: that means “eight-feet-long:”

I’m guessing the Latin “octopus” is later, as I can’t find it in Perseus and don’t have the Oxford Latin Dictionary to hand. At any rate, like most borrowings from Greek, it is apparently a third-declension noun, so “octopi” is, as wiktionary calls it, a “hypercorrection.”

(If you want to follow those links, you’ll have to copy and paste them; the link recognition is treating the betacode of aspirates - rough and smooth breathings - as parentheses and clipping the URLs too early.)


Octopi is the well accepted Geek plural. This being the interwabs I would expect people to know that, duh.


I was using it ironically

PS: Welcome to the BoingBoing Nerd Cage of Rage!


Peter Watts is surely tucking this article away for his eventual tie in between Starfish and Blindsight.


Yeah right - that’s just what you said tomorrow.


Shouldn’t there be eight of them?


I have Daily Mail/Express insulation on my browser



Hrm, hrm, yes, quite, quite. Allow me to elucidate, perchance to illuminate my good sir. It works thusly:
1 = octopus
2 through 7 = octopuses, (excepting 3.14159, which is special and uniquely designated “octopi”)*
exactly 8 = octopod
9 through 15 = octopode
16, or any multiple of 8 = octopods
17, or any larger number not evenly divisible by 8 = octopode

* considered a delicacy in some parts, wherein it is commonly spelled “octopie”
(P.S. There is no “octopodes”, and anyone implying such shall be soundly beaten!)


“It would be fair to call Merriam-Webster an authority on language, so when the dictionary maker speaks, we listen. They’ve provided an answer to the “octopus v. octopi” debate, and the proper word to use is… well, both of them are fine, but technically, “octopuses” is ‘more right.’”


Ah, but language is plastic!

If EVERYONE starts using “octopi”, it will be come the “more right” answer! We have the power!


You guys know that the octopus DNA thing was a plot point in the newest Jessica Jones season right? Seems to be the impetus for this.

They have an evolutionary path that is different than other animals - essentially they self-rewrite their RNA exponentially more than other animals. That seems to give them a leg up on short term changes, but has also may have ended up in a bit of an evolutionary dead end, because those easy short term changes limit their ability to make long term changes. (I.e. what made them smart, able to camouflage, etc, also prevented them from growing legs and lungs).


headline should probably be - “widely reported, apparently fake report from scientists declares octopi being life from another world a simple explanation for their genetic differences that shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand”. But that doesn’t scan as well.

The actual news - it’s octopi are weird, because they’re an incredibly optimized evolutionary dead end.


A rebuttal of the argument that Octopus are aliens.




For homework-doers:

  1. The original paper:

  2. The theory of panspermia it sets out to defend (from the wiki page of its co-originator):–Wickramasinghe_model_of_panspermia

  3. A bit on the other originator of the panspermia from this paper: