How Big of a Tentacle Beast Would it Take...
May 19, 2014 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Help me kill a lion. With a tentacle beast. Surely you are up to this challenge.

Two parts to this:

1) I am interested in more articles, videos, and photos of our friend the octopus doing stuff on land or interacting with land animals, especially defeating them in some way. Examples I currently have from stuff on the blue:

Octopus walking on land So cool. It looks like a Chthuloid horror. I like it. It gets better at the walking thing over time, especially after it upchucks the crab.

octopus eating seagull Article with pics of an octopus eating a seagull. It's awesome.

get it off my face I really enjoyed this even though it is on a tiny scale of cat vs tentacle beast. But it rocks! (From this FPP)

2) I want to know how a tentacle beast (octopus, squid, chthuloid horror -- go nuts with this part) could defeat a lion in battle. Please supply either actual real world facts or creative stories.

I very much want the tentacle beast to win. All is fair in love and war so, you know, feel free to fight dirty here. Just make sure the lion gets what's coming to him. Mmmkay?

Some stuff I have already discussed with some folks: Some tentacle beasts are poisonous, so size is not necessarily that important. ( I mention this explicitly to make it clear that my title is intended somewhat humorously, though it's fine if you run some calculations and decide how big the tentacle beast must be to kill the lion, k?) Octopuses are known to survive for 30 minutes out of water but lions apparently don't do so well in water, so an octopus could handle the lion's environment better than the lion could handle the ocean.

Anyway: ding, ding ding! Fight! May the best tentacle beast win.

(No, this is not chat filter. I am writing a, comic. Thanks.)
posted by Michele in California to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
OK well setting aside poison/stinging, I think the only two ways a cephalopod could finish off a lion are constriction of the torso or suffocation by wrapping around the head ...because that beak isn't big enough to cause enough deep enough flesh wounds on a lion. And for constriction it would have to be pretty enormous, prob less so for suffocation as long as it was strong enough to hold the jaw closed and not get pawed off ...a lion's jaws must have incredible bite strength but a lot less in terms of forcing a closed jaw back open. I bet a Giant Octopus (5-10 ft tip to tip) would have a shot. But if the lion just holds it down with its paws and starts biting off tentacles it could be over pretty quick.
posted by neat graffitist at 4:46 PM on May 19, 2014

I mean a giant squid could surely take on a lion if they fight whales, but it couldn't survive on land or even in shallow water for long enough to fight. And I'd rather stick to the rigorous fact-checked empiricism of my previous answer than get too speculative...
posted by neat graffitist at 4:51 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are we dealing with a single Lion here? Male or female? Laden or unladen?

If we assume a single lion and a mixed air/water environment, the seagull story would seem to indicate that the Octopus would try and hold the Lion underwater long enough to drown it. That might be easier with a seagull than a lion, though. Lions are bitier than seagulls.

So, if the tentacle beat is lying in wait for the lion to drink*, it could strike quickly and drag the lion under. The lion would fight, but the tentacle beast could go for the neck, holding the lion under and biting at the same time, looking to either drown it or sever a major artery, it might work out. Risky, though.

*ignoring the salt/fresh water issue here.
posted by baggers at 5:26 PM on May 19, 2014

Some ways I thought of, by imagination:


Choking with a tentacle around Leo's neck

breaking the neck by twisting.

Breaking the head/neck/spine by whipping a tentacle really fast.

Beaking... through an eye or soft spot? extenda-beak? (Thanks, ng)
posted by Jacen at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2014

It seems very simple. The lion would have no idea the octopus was even there because the noble creature would be so perfectly camouflaged. Foolish, pompous lion would be relaxing and enjoying himself while the clever cephalopod slowly, cautiously, elegantly extends a delicate tentacle... Perhaps it conceals itself on a tree overhead, or better yet, on the body of another lion who has wisely submitted to the new overlord rather than die a horrible death... With one quick motion, the octopus efficiently and ruthlessly strangles the unsuspecting victim. Who is king of the jungle now?
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 7:44 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I envisage the octopus being wildebeest sized (ie bigger than the lion, but not anything it couldn't take down) and the lion being the attacker and having the clear advantage - teeth and claws and power and speed. The octopus reflexively withdraws tentacles from the cuts and slashes but is slow and can't escape the lion. But... there is no throat or jugular for the lion to go for, and the tentacles don't just retreat, but also reflexively curl towards whatever touches them and grab, and there are so many of them that slowly, at some point, it has turned into the tar-baby fight - soon the lion has tentacles around it's legs, and struggles to move them, it has little balance or traction because it's tied up and encumbered, and all those powerful muscles in angry struggle - and then helpless struggle, and then panicked struggle - it just serves to burn its energy faster than the merely resistive octopus. The lion struggles as uselessly as if fighting rubber, becoming more and more exhausted, untill utterly exhausted, until the octopus can drag it to a watery grave... or a drop it off a cliff... or drag the head into a mudpuddle.

(A regular lion attack might be terrifying in it's violence, but this kind of drawn out struggling fading desperate death is terrifying on a whole other level...)
posted by anonymisc at 8:04 PM on May 19, 2014

Hard for me to imagine that even a wildebeest sized octopus would be heavy or strong enough to drag a lion ...that's just not the way it's built. And the tentacles wouldn't be strong enough for strangling ...they evolved to stick and pull, not to squeeze, and no joints for leverage. I still think simple wrapped-around-the-face smothering is the best approach. The lion could bang it into trees/rocks/the ground to try to knock it off though , which could so a lot of damage.

Komodo dragons will sometimes try to eat a whole goat or some other animal that's too big to swallow, and they'll ram it into trees to force it down their throat, sometimes so hard that they knock the tree down. Now THAT is an animal an octopus wouldn't want to mess with.
posted by neat graffitist at 8:49 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are we dealing with a single Lion here? Male or female? Laden or unladen?

Single male lion. I don't know what you are asking with "laden or unladen." The tentacle beast can be any kind of thing that can be fit into that description, can have allies, can have whatever sneaky advantage (or other advantage). I just would like it to win.

posted by Michele in California at 9:20 AM on May 20, 2014

I don't know what you are asking with "laden or unladen."

Does the lion have a coconut in his mouth at the time of the attack?

The big problem for the tentacle beast is structural. How does one stand up? Gelatinous horrors don't work on land because they tend to puddle. How does it grip? To make best use of the tentacles, they need to brace well.

No bones means a severe lack of leverage. A 100-kg human can pull a 1 tonne object because we have bones. Thus your squamous monster will require eldritch internal bracing to successfully catch a lion, laden or unladen.

Or, alternatively, it can do something like this. Bones are for land-dwellers.
posted by bonehead at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Octopus vs. Jar
posted by oceano at 10:38 AM on May 21, 2014

Does the lion have a coconut in his mouth at the time of the attack?

It can be laden or unladen, with whatever makes peeps happy to kill this sucker off. Whatever works for y'all.

Single male lion. No allies. Tentacle beast can have allies and sneakiness and dirty rotten cheating and whatever works to make it the clear winner!
posted by Michele in California at 10:56 AM on May 21, 2014

The most dreaded of all reef-dwellers, the mighty (but tiny) Blue-Ringed Octopus, suddenly finds that a fresh-water environment is enticing. No, don't ask how -- it isn't important.

Lurking in the shallows at the edge of the water hole, it delivers its bite to the intruding muzzle of the big cat. A tiny bite, not even noticed. Not at first.

The saliva contains a deadly mix of tetrodotoxin and other neurotoxins. A few microcentigrams would be enough to kill. The lion has a thousand times that in its blood.

The lion finishes drinking and walks away. A few paces from the edge of the water, it stumbles, falls, rises, and falls never to rise again.

Within two minutes, the paralysis is total and breathing stops. The actual cause of death is suffocation.

Few chemical traces remain; certainly nothing that will disturb the carrion birds that already gather nearby.
posted by sourcequench at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

FYI: A couple of people joked about doing a creative story about Doc Ock here and saying he is a Tentacle Beast (by some definition thereof). I am totally okay with that if that is what someone wants to do.

(So, mods, please kindly don't delete it if anyone does that. K? thx.)
posted by Michele in California at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2014

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