Octopuses are thought to be one of the most intelligent invertebrates and can change the color and texture of their skin to blend in with rocks, algae, or coral to avoid predators. But until now, an octopus with the ability to actually assume the appearance of another animal had never been observed. "Having studied many octopus species in the wild, I am never surprised by the color and shape change capacities of these animals," said Mark Norman of the Melbourne Museum in Australia. "However, this animal stood out as it was the only one we've encountered that goes beyond camouflage to take on the guise of dangerous animals." Norman and fellow researchers Julian Finn of the University of Tasmania in Australia and Tom Tregenza of the University of Leeds in England describe the octopus mimic in the September 7 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. "This," Tregenza said, "is a rather dramatic animal." Talented Impersonator Mimicry is a fairly common survival strategy in nature. Certain flies, for example, assume the black and yellow stripes of bees as a warning to potential predators. But the adaptable octopus is the first known species that can assume multiple guises.