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Hopefully these quick hints and photos below will help you identify the “Mimic” octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus, Norman and Hochberg, 2005) and Wunderpus (Wunderpus photogenicus Hochberg, Norman, and Finn, 2006) from photos or video.  If you’re still unable to identify an octopus in question, please feel free to email us.  Who knows, maybe you’ve captured something new!

Both T. mimicus and W. photogenicus can have variable activity patterns, however T. mimicus is most often active during the day while W. photogenicus tends to emerge from dens at dusk and dawn, and forages in the early evening and morning.


Thaumoctopus mimicus
Wunderpus photogenicus

Mantle Markings

wunderpus mantle
Border between pale and dark brown areas on the T. mimicus is subjective.  The dark areas are mottled, making it difficult to identify where they begin and pale areas end, especially on the side of the mantle.  Pale areas connect, while many brown areas can be dark “islands” of color. 

Pale white/yellowish markings on a rusty brown background. The edges of these markings are clear.  For example, I have easily traced the border between the rusty brown background and the pale areas of a W. photogenicus mantle below.  Each of these pale and brown areas is fairly uniform in color, even on the side of the mantle.  The brown background is solid, leaving no isolated dark patches. 

White "V"

Mimic outline
Bright white “V” on the posterior mantle (outlined in blue).
wunderpus outline

No white “V” evident on posterior mantle.

Side of Mantle
Mimic side
Wunderpus side
Dark area below eye when viewed from the side. No dark area below eye when viewed from the side
Mimic eyes
Wunderpus eyes
Eyes on short stalks.  Eyes on long stalks
Mimic suckers
Wunderpus suckers
Bright white line along base of suckers. No bright white line along sucker base.
Reddish Markings
Mimic red

See movie 28172 of Wunderpus photogenicus

on Tree of Life web project


Reddish brown patch below eyes, but no reddish patch pulsing between eyes. One or two reddish brown patches pulse between the eyes