Isn’t Nature Entertaining?

“Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.”

Have you hear this rhyme before.  Apparently it is part of a nursery rhyme called “The Siphonaptera“.  I actually learned this at University. Honestly.   My Professor introduced the rhyme to us to make the point that all creatures harbour parasites….even parasites have parasites.
Now it seems the same principle holds true for mimics.  In 1998, scientists studying the shallow seas off the coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia found a strange species of octopus which has a talent of mimicking other sea-creatures.  The Indonesian Mimic Octopus, Thaumoctopus mimicus is the first known species capable of mimicking multiple species.   One would think that ol’ T. mimicus might be pretty smug about his talents.  But it seems, what goes around, comes around.  Just recently, scientists discovered a small jawfish that turns the tables on the octopus by mimicking it.  Now isn’t nature entertaining?

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This has inspired this poet squirrel to mimic a famous rhyme………

“Some creatures are plagued by mimics that mimic them,

But these mimics have their own pesky mimics and so ad infinitum.



14 thoughts on “Isn’t Nature Entertaining?”

  1. Great post. Like you, I am never bored, always fascinated by what we have right here in the garden. If only we, as a species, were only smart enough to realize it and cherish it.

  2. When you think about how these animals and everything else came to be are you surprised how magnificent they are? If we could only treat species as we should.

  3. Very clever that they can come up with that. Humans can mimic as well although not to safe themselves. Can you imagen that we get mimiced

  4. That’s amazing. Nature never fails to amaze me. What amazes me is how puny and pathetic we humans are in comparison to so many other species.

  5. The natural world is incredibly fascinating, and I love the flea rhyme. Years ago, I listened all night to a mocking bird in a tree beside my window go through his repertoire of imitations: He did dogs, cats, horses, cows, monkeys, many other birds, and even the wind blowing leaves during a storm. I have never heard anything like it since.

  6. Mr. Charleston,
    Do you ever post about your Arboretum? I would like to learn more about your work and workplace.

    Hard to believe that all these wonders were all the product of chance, isn’t it?

  7. Marja,
    There is a horror story movie based on the idea of a creature mimicking humans to avoid detection, Interestingly, it is called “The Mimic”.

    Riot Kitty,
    We can’t run that fast or lift much compared to our body weight or fly naturally or swim all that fast but we sure can destroy things better than any other creature.

  8. hearts,
    I have never heard or even seen a mockingbird before. It must be quite the experience to have him perform for you like that. Here, we have the hill myna which is also an amazing mimic.

    I tried but it was so good that I couldn’t find it.

  9. OK, Sulawesi coast. Another place where I will never step into the water!
    I can not help, the sea creatures trigger something – nowadays I can at least look at them. I had a formidable horror trip as a tenager, when we were visitng a deep sea museum in Hamburg from school, these creatures gave me serious nightmares. Impressive photographes and all, but I will pass the larger versions, thank you.

  10. It realy makes you think. Are they actually thinking? It seems like it would require a certain level of intelligence. I also love how some animals use tools. And I read an article about a certain monkey species telling a lie. He saw some monkeys digging near where he had buried some nuts so he did the “Danger from above” scream to mean a hawk or whatever was present and the other monkeys ran for cover. There was no predator bird. Nature is fascinating, indeed!

  11. Mago,
    Sounds like you have a phobia and I don’t blame you. A lot of sea creatures are very much other-worldly and scary looking especially those from the deep sea. I once found a skeleton on the beach that I could not identify but it had several rows of teeth. Suffice to say, I did not go swimming.

    Thanks for sharing that story. Gives me some ideas about how to steal other squirrels’ nuts!

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