Student Voice


May 30, 2023




The feasibility of spontaneously morphing into an octopus

February 5, 2016

This argument has been deemed quite controversial: Is it possible for one to simply become an octopus without outside forces acting upon them? To start off, one might ask if this is likely, the answer to which is clearly ‘no.’ While it would be amazing for someone walking alongside you to suddenly be dragging themselves around as I imagine an octopus would on land, we just don’t see it happen every day. Then again, many things are unlikely yet the probability of their happening is discussed, such as random quantum fluctuations generating a new big bang that results in the creation of an identical universe to our own… which according to the Wikipedia article “Timeline of the Far Future” will only take about ten to the ten to the ten to the fifty-eight years. I honestly can’t think of a good way to read that number… moving on.

Now, the easiest way to become an octopus is to shorten the gap between your current state and octopus-dom as much as possible. When you Google “What is an octopus?” you get an answer along the lines of: “A cephalopod mollusk with eight sucker-bearing arms, a soft sac-like body, strong beak-like jaws, and no internal shell.” Quick note, I’m going to call the plural of octopus ‘octopodes,’ because otherwise Microsoft Word doesn’t show enough spelling errors and that’s boring.

Breaking down the definition, we first come across ‘cephalopod mollusk’ which seems sort of redundant to me, like saying a ‘monkey mammal.’ Googling “What is a cephalopod?” gives us “an active predatory mollusk of the large class Cephalopoda, such as an octopus or squid,” which gives us pretty free reign here since it basically just says active predatory mollusks that are squids and octopodes and whatnot. But “What is a mollusk?” We must ask Google, and in 0.52 seconds we get a really long description that is mostly a list and such: “An invertebrate of a large phylum that includes […] octopuses. They have a soft, unsegmented body and live in aquatic or damp habitats, and most kinds have an external calcareous shell.” So we know we got to be soft, unsegmented, live in damp environments, and predatory. Basically, just lose the bones and live by a river.

Next up it says ‘sucker-bearing arms.’ Arms could be anything, like branches of government. Suckers also could be anything, like lollipops. So let’s say you become the CEO of a company with 8 divisions, all of which have one of those bowls of suckers in their front office.

‘Strong beak-like jaws’ and ‘no internal shell’ are pretty self-explanatory. Which means that in order to meet this definition of octopus you just need to keep working up that corporate latter, buy a house on a lake, then surgically remove your bones and get a beak-like jaw implant.

Some people are against the idea of bending the definitions of something just to meet it. Fair enough, we’ll be more ‘scientific’ about this. Well, for your DNA to become that of an octopus, most of it could stay the same because that’s how DNA works. A lot of molecules would have to simultaneously switch out, but only the majority of your cells really need to change, the immune system will kill off the rest later… also by majority I mean like 27 pounds of your overall mass, anything over, like, 30 pounds is going to need to be lobbed off because octopodes are typically like 30 pounds (the heavier kind).

Either way, this is still more likely than the universe copying itself so whatever.

Trevor Hoglund is a student at UW-River Falls.