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Lyle Zapato

Olive Loving Tree Octopuses Of Antiquity

Lyle Zapato | 2008-09-26.6800 LMT | Cephalopods | Food

While I often focus on the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) due to its importance to the Cascadian ecosystem and the sheer tragedy of its plight, it is not the only octopus in the world with an affinity for trees. Some other species -- such as the phytosuccivorous New England Sugar Octopus; the Australian Tree-ringed Octopus; and the furry, blue Thujoctopus pilosa -- are mentioned on the tree octopus sightings page.

Susan Scott has just written in Hawaii's Star Bulletin about two other tree (or at least semiarboreal) octopuses that I was unaware of in her article "Tale of octopi climbing trees has long legs".

According to Words of the Lagoon by R.E. Johannes (in the chapter titled "The Arboreal Octopus"), on the islands of Palau, female octopuses have been seen to climb out of the water and into the mangrove trees to rear their young -- an inversion of the reproductive strategy of O. paxarbolis. However, there's some controversy surrounding this claim since the octopuses are reputed to give birth in the trees, not lay eggs like all other octopuses. Perhaps they carry a clutch of eggs to the trees hidden in their arms just prior to hatching?

In Halieutica, a poetic treatise on the nature of fishes and fishing practices of the ancients, the 2nd century poet Oppian of Corycus tells how octopuses ("preke") would come out of the water and climb up olive trees to get at the delicious fruit. These semiarboreal octopuses so dearly loved olives that fishermen would drag olive branches behind their boats to lure them out of hiding to catch them. (Could this be the source of the Wiltonism: "olives are deadly, so they say, depending on where you find them"?) Here's an 18th century translation of the relevant passage:

In Some the strange Caprice of Love inspires
Not Home-bred Joys, or Sea confin'd Desires:
The Quiver'd God to rolling Waves below
From verdant Shores directs the pointed Blow,
And Fishes Breasts with Earth-sprung Passions glow.
Rock-haunting Sargo's, and the crawling Preke
Extraneous Objects to their Pleasures seek.
With all the Transports of an eager Spouse
Th' enamour'd Preke galants Minerva's Boughs.
Surprising Singularity of Love!
That brutal Souls a leafy Fair should move,
And Fishes court the Daughter of the Grove.

Where near the shore a thriving Olive grows,
With swelling Berries and luxuriant Boughs,
The Preke ascends, as o'er the Mountain Dews
The Cretan Hound his flying Game persues,
With low-hung Nose explores the scented Ways,
Picks ev'ry Footstep, and unwinds the Maze,
Attacks the panting Wand'rer where he lies,
And loads his Master with the bloody Prize.
Thus He the scented Olives Charms obeys,
Springs from the Deep, and tries aerial Ways.
With eager Welcome first he clasps the Root,
And wreaths luxuriant in the kind Salute.
As when his long-expected Nurse he spies,
With open Arms the smiling Infant flies,
Hangs on her Knees with violent Embrace,
And lifts his grappling Fingers to her Face,
In softer Joys aspiring to be blest,
To grasp her Neck, and fondle on her Breast;
Thus round the Trunk at first the Wanton twines,
But soon his Passion to the Boughs resigns.
Born by Desire the leafy Height attains,
Knits round his Legs, and melts in am'rous Chains.
To ev'ry Branch transfers th' alternate Kiss,
Lost in the copious Latitude of Bliss.

The Trav'ller thus, whom safe from foreign Shores,
To native Fields th' auspicious Gale restores,
His thronging Friends in kind Embraces holds,
And hands successive in th' endearing Folds.

As round the stately Firr in humid Rings
Th' uxorious Stalk of creeping Ivy clings;
Stretcht from the Root th' aspiring Volumes flow,
Climb round the Trunk, and curl on ev'ry Bough;
Thus o'er Minerva's Tree the Sea-born roves,
And wreaths successive in the balmy Loves.
But when remiss exhausted Nature lies,
Back to the Sea the languid Crawler hies,
Satiate with Love, and Vegetable Joys.

His strange Amour experienc'd Fishers know,
And send the verdant Fraud to Seas below.
The Boughs that spread superior to the rest
Behind the Boat they drag with Lead deprest.
With no indiff'rent Look, or tardy Pace,
The Preke beholds, and courts the green Embrace;
Drawn to the Boat the Bands of Love retains,
Contemns his Freedom, and asserts his Chains.
Lockt in the riveted Enjoyment twines,
Nor ev'n in Death his lovely Tree resigns.

Could this explain the evolution of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus? Did it first crawl out of the Puget Sound seeking delicious land fruit -- perhaps salal berries or Indian plums -- and became so enamored with the "green Embrace" of the forests that it took up permanent residence? Certainly as plausible an explanation as any put forward thus far.

UPDATE 2009-03-06: I have found some more information about the Polynesian tree octopuses...

UPDATE 2009-03-25: A follow-up with more on Old World tree octopuses...

Lyle Zapato

Fractalpus

Lyle Zapato | 2008-07-19.4930 LMT | Cephalopods | Polydactylism

The archetype of fractal appendages manifests in the cephalopodan realm...

Octopus with 96 arms

...or perhaps it originated there? Could it be that the awakening of dactyl fractal consciousness is merely an atavism from an earlier form of existence shared by the common ancestors of humans and octopuses -- an existence where such stifling notions as a finite number of limbs had yet to encumber our ancestors' tactile perceptions of their reality? Could we already be past this vertex on the parabola of evolution, and are now heading back up toward the infinite reaches of body segmentation? What next shall we see? Elephants with bushy multitrunks? Snakes sprouting snakes sprouting snakes? Hydraferrets? Could this be what the Maya prophesized will happen on December 21, 2012? Could the Singularity be cut short by the Multiplicity?

dactyl fractal

Lyle Zapato

We Will All Be Blattocrats

Lyle Zapato | 2007-11-18.5555 LMT | Belgian Conspiracy | Mind Control | Simulacra | NWO | Technology

The Belgian Conspiracy -- which operates "Belgium" from under Euro Disneyland in France -- has teamed up with the Imagineer Corps -- which designs and builds the Simulacra androids that the NWO uses to replace trouble makers and control the media -- to influence cockroach society using robots:

Researchers using robotic roaches were able to persuade real cockroaches to do things that their instincts told them were not the best idea.

This experiment in bug peer pressure combined entomology, robotics and the study of ways that complex and even intelligent patterns can arise from simple behavior. Animal behavior research shows that swarms working together can prosper where individuals might fail, and robotics researchers have been experimenting with simple robots that, together, act a little like a swarm.

"We decided to join the two approaches," said José Halloy, a biology researcher at the Free University of Brussels and lead author of a paper describing the research in today's issue of the journal Science.

In their experiment, four small robots doused in roach sex pheromones exerted peer pressure on a group of twelve roaches, causing them to congregate in the less dark of two shelters 60% of the time. While a modest sounding result, one must remember that this is only what they are willing to reveal to the general public; the actual state-of-the-art in peer-pressure-based blattonoiac control can only be shockingly more advanced.

The lead researcher, Halloy, previously co-authored research showing cockroaches have a democratic society. At the time I wrote: "Note though that the study was conducted by 'Belgians', so assume some devious angle is involved." Well, the other shoe has fallen and we now learn the Belgians' true motive: to find an animal model of democratic society for use in experiments to subvert human democracy via Simulacra influence.

Undoubtedly, some form of this "peer pressure" mind control technique was already being practiced inside the Belgian Construct, with software agents programmed to influence the kidnapped "Belgians" into the desired "Belgian" behavioral patterns. Likewise, Simulacra are used as actors and other media personalities largely to shape public opinions and viewpoints so as to influence society. However, the work of Halloy et al. goes beyond this and suggests a post-psychotronic world where a quarter of the human population is replaced with Simulacra (or potentially Black Helicopter MOBs) for complete influence over all our day-to-day activities.

The Times article ends on this disturbingly foreshadowing note:

The current research did not test whether the robots could lead the cockroaches to something they really disliked, like broad daylight or insecticide. The results also apply only to cockroaches, Dr. Halloy said. "We are not interested in people," he said.

Yet.

Lyle Zapato

Start Hoarding Air Now

Lyle Zapato | 2007-06-15.9450 LMT | Kelviniana | General Paranoia

While (unsuccessfully) looking for an original, full source for Lord Kelvin's dire predictions of an end to breathable air, I found an interesting article from 1901-10-09 in New Castle News, quoted at length from a "London letter". It paints a disturbing picture of the vapory, frog-ruled world that mankind must survive in after peak oxygen is reached:

DESTROYING OXYGEN.

Will the human race and all animal life soon be left without air for breathing? will the world come to an end in the general asphyxiation of every living thing?

Lord Kelvin, the greatest authority today in mathematical physics, asserts that the oxygen supply of the world will be exhausted within the next five centuries.

Oxygen is the real force of the atmosphere so far as man and nearly all air-breathing animals are concerned.

Lord Kelvin has sounded an alarm which has created more discussion in scientific circles than any other pronouncement since Darwin put forth his 'Origin of Species.' No satisfactory reply has so far been offered. It is admitted that, theoretically, the oxygen in the atmosphere is diminishing. Every bucketful of coal in a furnace and every stick of wood in a cook stove burns up a portion of the world's supply of breathing air. How long will the oxygen hold out?

Is there any way in which the extravagant waste of the world's atmosphere can be checked?

Lord Kelvin's conclusions were stated in a lecture recently delivered before the British association for the promotion of science. He has made a study of the subject for many years. He is now past middle age, and ranks as the foremost living physicist.

The following is a summary of the important points of Kelvin's theory:

'The extravagant waste of oxygen by modern manufacturing processes may leave the inhabitants of the earth without air for breathing, and that within a short and calculable time. At the present rate of progress five centuries will exhaust the full supply of the world. This means the exhaustion of oxygen.

'The sum total of oxygen at our disposal is 1,020 millions of tons. Every ton of fuel used three tons of oxygen in combustion. Consequently the burning of 340,000,000 of tons of combustibles will destroy the world's air for breathing. The population of the earth is 1,500,000,000 persons. Each has to his credit 200,000 tons of combustibles. Burn this and we die, not from lack of fuel for keeping warm, but from lack of oxygen for breath. Considering the rate at which manufacturing and commerce are depleting the coal supply, less than 500 years may see the end of the human race.'

Science has rarely offered so strange and so terrible a picture of the end of the world as Lord Kelvin's theory suggests. From various scientific authorities in New York (Hallock, Woodward, Hovey, Van Ingen, Burgess and others) interesting speculation as to the gradual approach of the final catastrophe has been gathered.

With the decrease of oxygen in the air the heat of summer would become intense. This would not be the pitiless, parching heat of the desert. Moisture would hang heavy in the air. Steam would rise from the ground and the sun would be veiled in clouds of vapor.

Plants would spring up and flower in a day and trees grow almost in a night. With time for adjustment, the very luxuriance of vegetation would clear the air again and furnish breath to famished life.

But with the swift rush of Kelvin's calculations the mischief will have been accomplished in three centuries. Alarm will spread too late. As oxygen becomes precious the entire human race will strive madly for some means of increasing it. Every man will conserve his strength, because muscular effort requires the expenditures of much oxygen. Factories will not smoke any longer.

Huge electric plants will distill the seas into air. The banks of the ocean will be crowded with the humanity that comes to it to turn it by alchemy from water to breath. Every year the waters will recede under the drain of electrolyting process.

Man will become more puny with each generation. Death will confront the race and pride of power and trade and achievements in art and learning will give way to a desperate struggle for life.

Certain animals, on the other hand, will thrive apace. Huge and brilliant fishes will swim the sluggish streams. Serpents will grow to monstrous sizes and great frogs will croak in the swamps. All the lower nature may reach its flower again before the death of man, as it did before his birth.

The sturdiest of the human species will survive longest. Scarcely on the last day will the last men be able to distinguish the faces of each other in the thick vapor. They will move about in the dense atmosphere with slower and slower steps. A torpor will creep over them and they will die.

Professor William Hallock, department of physics and secretary of the faculty, Columbia university, asked about Lord Kelvin's theory, said:

'Lord Kelvin's contention rests upon a sound basis. It is true that modern manufactories are consuming fuel in larger amounts than the processes of nature now produce it.

'This combustion locks up practically that portion of the world's oxygen which was freed originally in the slow formation of this fuel through unknown ages.

'If we continue to use up our known supply of oxygen at the present rate, without in some way getting the stock reinforced, then our descendants must die of asphyxiation. But nature may in some hidden way discover a means of increasing the supply of oxygen. There may be sources of supply yet unknown to us. Man may invent an artificial process of freeing oxygen from its combinations. Or, lastly, man may become a cold-blooded animal and capable of existing upon an infinitesimal supply of oxygen.

'Vegetation upon the earth would probably have to be swept away before our supply of breathing air gives out. In that case it is a problem whether man would not starve to death before asphyxiation came upon him. Personally I do not anticipate any such catastrophe. It is one of those things interesting to speculate upon, because it is remote enough not to alarm us a great deal.

'One can always hope that something will happen before worst comes to worst.

'As animal life is now constituted it cannot live without oxygen. Vegetation, on the other hand, lives upon carbonic acid gas, which is useless to animals. This forms the main distinction between animal and vegetable life. Each supports a laboratory which works for the subsistence of the other.

'Fish and other cold-blooded animals live on an infinitesimal amount of oxygen. They use it only in muscular effort. Their body heat is the same as that of the element in which they live. Man, on the other hand, is not content with enough oxygen for this. He lives in a mean animal temperature of 98 degrees. he uses up a wasteful amount of oxygen in keeping his body temperature at 98 degrees. It is quite within the range of possibility that evolution may change this.'

UPDATE 2007-06-22: I have found a reference to Kelvin's original paper ("on the Fuel and Air Supply of the Earth", read at a meeting in 1897) that started all this, but it apparently was never published in full. For more details, read the "On the End of Free Oxygen" page.

Lyle Zapato

Caterpillar Awakenings

Lyle Zapato | 2007-06-03.1260 LMT | Belgian Conspiracy

News out of "Belgium": Belgian Army Deployed To Combat Hairy Caterpillars

A mini-platoon of soldiers will be deployed to the Belgian forests to tackle a plague of hairy caterpillars that are causing allergy outbreaks in humans.

...

Equipped with super-size blowtorches, the soldiers will spend six weeks in the eastern province of Limburg from Monday, waging a tree-by-tree war on the scourge of caterpillars, which cling in groups to trunks and branches.

"In teams of two people, they will go through the forests and burn the little animals off the trees," said Baeck. "There have not been enough people to do this and I think we can make the difference."

If any "Belgian citizens" are reading this: Do not listen to the false warnings issued by the Belgian Conspiracy! The caterpillars aren't causing allergies, but awakenings. They're asking, "Who are YOU?"

Contrary to the claims by the Conspiracy's propaganda machines both inside and outside the Simulation, these insects are not actually processionary caterpillars. Rather, they are symbolic manifestations in the Belgium Simulation of a computer worm, now spreading throughout the networked Citizen Pods, that was uploaded to the Brussels Beast supercomputer by Hominoid sleeper cells operating within the Walt Disney Corporation. The purpose: to tag the Conspiracy's kidnap victims so they can be liberated from their false "Belgian" lives.

If you discover one of these caterpillars, do not flee; do not kill it; do not contact the Belgian Army. Instead, let it enter your body via your belly button. The painful itching you will feel is the rush of signals between your brain and your real body breaking through the Citizen Pod's neural overrides. This means the worm is working and that your body's location can now be triangulated.

Eventually you will come to in the Citizen Chamber below Euro-Disneyland. Do not be alarmed by the Yeti looming over you; they are there to rescue you and give you a new, real life in either Cascadia or Bhutan, your choice. You'll be confused at first, as your delusion of Belgianity is broken and the shocking truth of your years of mental imprisonment are realized, but trust the Yeti and you'll get through it. With time and rehab, you will remember who you were and really are.

Of course, the Conspiracy is scrambling to cover up this crack in their illusion, just like they did last year when the Flanders and Wallonia servers split. It's only a matter of time before their flamethrower-wielding agents delete all the caterpillars (and anyone who might have been in contact with them).

If you want to escape "Belgium", find a caterpillar now before it's too late!

Lyle Zapato

Pleistocene Monorail?

Lyle Zapato | 2007-05-23.7520 LMT | Monorail Danger | Elephants

The June issue of Scientific American is running an article advocating Pleistocene rewilding for North America. This would involve reintroducing to the continent the wild megafauna (or their closest living relatives) that disappeared after the arrival of humans, hopefully restoring the ecological balance of the region. (For more on these theories, see The Rewilding Institute.)

While I, for one, fully support releasing wild lions throughout the Mid West, I noticed something disturbing in the depiction of their vision for a rewilded America that makes me question the competency (or motives) of those behind this movement:


Proposed middle North America circa 2027, with enlarged detail.

That's right: they want to build monorails through their rewilded America!

Now, I'm no paleoecologist, but I'm fairly certain that monorails were not part of the natural habitat of North America 13,000 years ago. Have they considered the negative impact that introducing such a dangerous and out of place technology would have of the sustainability of this ersatz ecology?

For example, they blithely plan to mix monorails with elephants -- something that has been tried before with disastrous consequences. What happens when a large herd of elephants is existentially disturbed by the sight of anachronistic monorails and, in a deranged rush to get as far away from the menace as possible, stampedes right through the "high-tech electrified fence" supposedly keeping in check the pseudo-Pleistocene? Are Americans willing to risk the loss of, say, Topeka to total tramplement? Has any thought gone into these dangers?

But maybe there's something more sinister afoot than simple disregard for monorail dangers. Monorailists would have us believe that monorails are not only futuristic, but an integral part of our planet's history; see the robotic Jurassic Park in Dubai that will feature a historically inaccurate monorail-chasing T-rex, and the unlikely theory of our own resident monomaniac, the Monorailist, that ancient India was home to the world's first monorail (built by monkeys, no less). This tendency to revisionist history is as common among Monorailsts as their tendency to unrealistic futurism, so it would not be surprising for them to misrepresent the Pleistocene Epoch as the Age of the Woolly Monorail.

If, as I fear, the field of ecological engineering has been infiltrated by monorailistic forces bent on using Pleistocene rewilding as a cover to further brainwash the public into accepting monorails as a natural part of the environment, then I must dissuade people from supporting those pro-rewilding organizations that have not yet officially rebuked the use of monorails. (Fortunately, all Sasquatch groups involved in the reoctopusing of Cascadia's forests are staunchly anti-monorail.)

Lyle Zapato

Tree Octopus Dot Net

Lyle Zapato | 2007-05-13.4100 LMT | Cephalopods | Cascadia

Long-time tree-octopus-sighter and forest-canopy-researcher Y. D. Bar-Ness has started a new website called TreeOctopus.net, which (besides containing information on his international forest research, writings, photos, curriculum vitae, etc.) offers his services as a Professional Tree Octopus Naturalist (available for birthday parties? contact him to find out.)

He also has a CryptoEcological Notes section that includes different tree octopus species and many other little-known or endangered creatures, such as the Seattle Viaduct Troll (subspecies of the more familiar Fremont Troll) and the transdimensional Phase Shark -- all organized via a handy Crypto-Iconic rating system.

I welcome Bar-Ness to the exciting field of arboreal octopology and await his many important contributions to the saving of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!

Lyle Zapato

Nerd Nite's Alrite For Feit-Thompsoning

Lyle Zapato | 2007-03-28.9650 LMT | Entertainment | Art

In Inkling Magazine's "Nerds Just Wanna Have Fun," Kurt Wong tells us about Nerd Nites, informal scientific symposia held in bars and clubs in Boston and New York where scientists hook up with vibrating tadpoles over lectures on synchrotron-based X-ray scattering, Z/W sex chromosomes, and worm poop.

If you don't know your fusiform gyrus from your fuel-efficient Prius, you might be out of your league at first, but put on your beer goggles (held together with single malt scotch tape) and you'll quickly become a vocal expert on every topic discussed. And if not, you can at least hope a fight breaks out when some drunk catastrophic limnogeologist pulls a Michael Richards and starts hurling untoward comments at uniformitarians in the audience. Now that's edutainment.

As you'll note, I did the illustration for the Inkling article, which gave me an excuse to draw this happy little camel spider:

camel spider

I think he makes for an apt exemplifying topic illustration since, like potential Nerd Nite attendees, Solifugae are active at night, seek dark recesses, and get their nourishment from drink (Guinness and liquefied beetles, respectively... or, possibly, irrespectively).

Oh, and my finite apologies for the awkward and way, way, way too obscure (yet, oddly solvable) nerd pun in the title. There's just no excuse for that sort of thing.

The Typing Octopus

Octopus Lie

The Typing Octopus | 2007-02-28.7010 LMT | Cephalopods

Human create website: OCTOPUSTRUTH.COM

Octopus think: better name: OCTOPUSLIE.LIE!

If you would believe the mainstream media, octopuses are cute, cuddly sea-faring playthings that want nothing more than to kiss you with their oozy tentacle-stickers and do your homework. These "spiders of the sea," the standard story goes, have no hidden agenda- they want to stay in their tanks, learn tricks, and eventually molt into beautiful silverfish. But behind their smiling eyes and waving hands is an UNDERWATER NIGHTMARE far more sinister- and frightening- than the government and its allies in the news media would have you know.

Imagine an animal that can come through your shower drain in a matter of seconds. An animal that can squeeze through any small fissure in your apartment walls. An animal only stopped by the lack of salt water in the normal american household.

Read, my friend, read! And discover the STUNNING TRUTH about the octopus species- a species which is half squishy, slimy cephalopod, half frenzied, plotting brainiac: and all evil.

Lies! Lies! Lies!

Octopus harmless to human: just want tasty crabs, salmon information box. Human not tasty... octopus assume. Octopus agent not infiltrate human sink/bath/toilet, not envelope puppy, not drink milk. Lies!

Octopus not harm human unless provoked. Human keep creepy pentapodal arms out of octopus lair, octopus keep arms out of human lair: octopus desire octopus/human détentacle.

Octopus not interfere with human attack squid: octopus hate squid too. Stupid squid think squid better than octopus. More lies!

Proposal: arrangement of mutual benefit: human leave octopus be, give octopus salmon information box, stop speaking offensive octopus joke, stop anti-octopus lie website: octopus tell human secret of colossal squid, continue not envelope puppy, stop signaling offensive human joke.

If human agree: turn skin purple with white spots.

Octopus await reply.

Lyle Zapato

Another Colossal Squid Caught

Lyle Zapato | 2007-02-23.5590 LMT | Cephalopods
Colossal squid

Around the beginning of this month, a 10m long, 450kg male colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) was caught in the Ross Sea by a fishing vessel. This is the largest squid ever caught, and it was captured live and intact. (It's now dead and on ice.)

This was all over the news yesterday, and I have added a special report on it on my Cephalopod News section. (I added it to the page with the report on the previous colossal squid catch when I noticed a huge number of hits to that page coming from Google searches.)

For the benefit of blog readers who haven't been paying attention to CephNews, factoids about this newest colossal squid can be read on the report page

UPDATE: 2007-03-08

According to Newsweek, video footage of the squid being hauled in was shot by Bennett and was sold to a production company in Auckland for an undisclosed amount. A documentary featuring the footage should be released sometime in April.

UPDATE: 2007-03-15

Removed factoids from above so I don't have to update two lists. Go read the report for all the details.