Paul the Octopus

During the 2010 World Cup, the gifted mollusk captured the hearts and minds of people from marine biologists to football fans to Miss Cleo before his mysterious end in October of 2010. What really happened in that fishtank-turned-crystal ball?

Image for Paul the Octopus

File number: EXB006-psychic-cephalopod

Year: 2010

THE (ALLEGED) FACTS: Paul, the world’s most famous invertebrate, hatched from an egg at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, Dorset, England some time in January 2008 and was soon after transported to the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre. During the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, Paul’s feeders began to use him as a football oracle. Paul was given the choice of two plastic feeding boxes bearing the flags of the competing teams. The box he chose was the predicted winner. After his successful prediction of most of Germany’s matches, he went on to astonish the world, predicting all seven of Germany’s matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as the outcome of the final. Paul then went into retirement and died at Oberhausen in October 26, 2010.

THE THEORIES: Even during Paul’s short but illustrious lifetime, cracks began to form in his official story. In July, 2010, Daniel Fey, a supervisor at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre, told Brazil’s that Paul was not the same octopus that predicted the Euro 2008 results, that in fact, he was not even born until after the tournament. There have also been rumours that Paul actually was hatched at sea and caught off the Mediterranean island of Elba, while a counter-theory by a French television station suggests he comes from Sète in Southern France.

No sooner had Paul made his way to the big fish tank in the sky than the second wave of conspiracy theories emerged – this one asserting he had not died peacefully in his Oberhausen aquarium on October 26 after all.

According to Jiang Xiao, a Chinese filmmaker, the creature had really been dead for at least three months. She said she was 60 to 70 percent sure that the famous mollusk xxxxx xxxxxxx had died in July two days before the World Cup Final and that a body double had been put in the tank. Nick Coman at American sports network NESN listed Italian football fans and “vengeful bookies” among Paul’s possible murderers, while some pointed out that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran had used the clairvoyant octopus as an example of “western propaganda and superstition.” Could the Iranian despot have planned the assassination?

ANALYSIS: The mystery cloaking the enigmatic cephalopod may never be solved conclusively, but several sources from inside the aquarium say that Paul was not switched before the final. Apparently all octopuses look the same, so it could be possible, but Paul had that special look in his eye. There was only one Paul. One obvious blow to the credibility of the cover-up theory is the fact that Xiao’s story coincided with the promotion of her movie, The Murder of Paul the Octopus, which charts Paul’s stunning rise to stardom and his apparent hidden end.

BELIEVABILITY (out of ten): X X