I have some alien creatures which are essentially land-going octopoids somewhat larger than humans. Tentacles not being a good form of propulsion on land, they have rudimentary 'legs' with one bone each (I envisage something like cuttlebone). Would this be enough for a slow, shuffling walk? Do I need any other modifications to get walking a octopus? This is supposed to be generally cephalopod/mollusk.

* UPDATE * If anyone is interested, the walking octopoids, aka Spawn, feature in my new novel War of the God Queen. Thank you all for your help -- and let me know if you'd like a review copy.

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    $\begingroup$ Do they have to walk? Would you settle for brachiating (swinging) from vines and branches? It would limit your creatures to forest biomes, but solves a lot of other problems. $\endgroup$
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 3, 2019 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ The action is set on rolling grassland, so they will have a lot of walking to do. They catch prey by spreading their tentacles and blending into the background. Walking is a must, but I'd like them to be slow. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2019 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ The amazing Octopus that can walk on dry land $\endgroup$
    – Theraot
    Apr 3, 2019 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Great video! The aim is to have something slightly faster and slightly more energy-efficient than a suckery slither (which might not be so good on dry terrain) $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2019 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ I think this picture's awesomeness should be strived for when talking about walking octopoid: goo.gl/images/FRBJpV $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Apr 3, 2019 at 17:53

3 Answers 3


Why walk? You’ve got a whole set of strong, flexible appendages. What you need to do is


Consider a snake. It has no limbs, and no issue with locomotion. Your octopoid can use its tentacles in much the same way, flexing a few strong, thick locomotion tentacles and pushing along the floor with them. This helps it stay low and camouflaged in a grassland environment.

Or consider a caterpillar. Their undulating motion would work superbly for your octopoid, who could even take advantage of their omnidirectional tentacles to let them change direction near instantly.

Or consider a worm. Reaching out with the fore tentacles, pushing with the rear ones and dragging oneself along the ground might not be the most elegant form of locomotion, but in the rainy season it could be marvellously efficient.

Finally consider the octopus. Many of the ways octop(uses/i/oids/us) move underwater are still usable on land, especially when they snake their tentacles under each other to create the impression of a rolling, roiling Mass of Tentacular Doom.

Your octopoid will probably also be pretty smart, so switching modes or temporarily hoisting itself into the air atop a column of tentacles to temporarily get better vision probably won’t be too much of a challenge for them.

  • $\begingroup$ Is that going to scale up to our sort of size? It doesn't seem to be popular with alrger-than-human, and it I think it might be rather inefficient. As well as inelegant :) But I admit I may be forced to re-think. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2019 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidHambling Pythons seem to manage OK, though an octopus with python sized tentacles slithering through the brush might be a touch terrifying!! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Apr 3, 2019 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Terrifying is the just effect I'm going for. There might have to be a little bit of arm waving on the scaling issue, but I think it should be able to create the effect I'm after... $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2019 at 7:53

Having rudimentary "legs" may be enough for a slow shuffle, but another option might be temporarily using the hydraulic pressure of body fluid through the tentacles, much like how a spider walks. A more detailed explanation of how this works can be found here.

Unlike spiders who have joints, your creatures have tentacles (no joints). This may cause serious issues for stability and control, but this changes the specifics how how the motion works, not the underlying concept of using hydraulic pressure.

For example, a sudden "flow" of fluid in the rear four tentacles would cause them to straighten with great force, possibly propelling (as in a "jump") or lunging (as in a strut or "shuffle") forward. The front two tentacles could use the suction for landing and positioning, with the side two for stability (much like how a human might "swing" on crutches when walking).

  • $\begingroup$ This might work well as a way of having it 'rear up' or lunge. Giant jumping octopi might be a bit much though. $\endgroup$ Apr 4, 2019 at 7:57

This isn't exactly the answer you asked for, but I think it may work well for your purposes.

You said in a comment that your species is on open, rolling grassland/prairie-like biomes, so there's lots of walking to do. I think it's problematic to envision that this species evolved in these prairies because, evolution-wise, wide open spaces heavily reward efficiency of movement.

So my suggestion is: it rides some quadruped like a horse, donkey, camel, etc. It didn't actually evolve in the prairie, but evolved in some nearby habitat and then migrated to the prairie after it domesticated this quadruped.

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    $\begingroup$ LOL! Points for inventiveness. It's a synthetic organism rather than an evolved one, but I might do something with that idea. $\endgroup$ Feb 15, 2020 at 13:13

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