Octopi- Unlikely Geniuses

I’ve long been interested in octopi (the plural of octopus, as octopuses doesn’t quite work). I’ve recalled prior stories on their mimicing ability and tales originating from aquariums about their resident octopi crawling out of their tanks, into others nearby, and snacking on the exhibit fish. Or perhaps this story about an octopus who escaped a tank in an Australia aquarium and bided his time in a drain waiting for an opportunity to escape. They’re incredibly smart animals which has suprised researchers as they expect these traits in longer-lived organisms. Most species of octopus will lives less than five years. Nevertheless, according to a fascinating article in Discover Magazine:

“Anatomy confirms what behavior reveals: Octopuses and cuttlefish have larger brains, relative to body weight, than most fish and reptiles, larger on average than any animals save birds and mammals. Although an octopus brain differs from a typical vertebrate’s brain—it wraps around the esophagus instead of resting in a cranium—it also shares key features such as folded lobes, a hallmark of complexity, and distinct visual and tactile memory centers. It even generates similar electrical patterns.”

 The latest in a series of reports about octopi doing a little marine yoga and arranging their bodies in shapes reminiscent of other ocean life is a video of an octopus in the Caribbean mimicing a flounder (in some senses, he almost looks like a skate to me):

This is the first Atlantic species discovered to do this, but scientists have known about the Indonesian mimic octopus for quite some time:

Not only, are these creatures masters of mimicry, but it appears they also join the list or organisms observed using tools. Another indonesian species, the veined octopus has been spotted carrying around coconut shells that they can use to form a shelter when predators threaten. Read more here.


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