They tell us how the octopus behaves. Tumblr users have been sharing wholesome stories about octopus’ intelligence, and a whopping 790K people have liked their thread on the social platform so far. A spokesperson for the aquarium said, “He was one of the octopus[es] that escaped every moment he got, we had to tie the doors shut to keep him in. In a follow-up study published in 2001, they found evidence that octopuses pass their personality traits onto their offspring. ... Because of the vastly different evolutionary histories, and the environment the animal has had to find fitness in, octopus intelligence is likely structured in a very different way from a human’s. The last common ancestor of humans and octopuses lived a long time ago. In a study published in 1993, they identified significant and consistent differences between individuals. Jennifer Mather is a comparative psychologist at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Mather argues that this and other examples are evidence that octopuses are capable of foresight and sequencing of actions. The following five stories illustrate the undeniable intelligence of these animals and call into question the practice of imprisoning them for a moment of entertainment. This is similar to the way human children quickly start to play with unfamiliar objects, something psychologist Corinne Hutt highlighted several decades ago. Then it suddenly darted towards a rock about 7ft (2m) away, put it under its tentacles and took it back to its den. to 'what can I do with this object'. For example, some of the octopuses would usually respond passively, while others tended to be inquisitive. You're welcome to debate in the comments but you would be wrong.) In work published in 2007, Mather and Anderson observed giant Pacific octopuses trying to get at the meat in different types of shellfish. The mimic is the only octopus that has been observed impersonating other animals. "Roland phoned me and said 'he's bouncing the ball'," says Mather. When moving through open water, it mimics a lionfish. The octopuses were filmed arranging the half-shells with the pointed ends facing down, then extending their arms over them and walking in a comic fashion along the sea floor. Here are five stories of their notorious mischievousness: In Santa Monica, California, only feet away from the ocean, sits the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The specimen has been kept at the Shima Marineland aquarium in the prefecture. He now soaks both visitors and employees every time they pass by his tank. She made direct eye contact while proceeding to shove the food down the drain. It’s acknowledged that they have distinct individual personalities, as they’re consistently the only animals in aquariums who are given names. To find out more about octopus intelligence, we spoke to Jennifer Mather, a comparative psychologist at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. PETA Video: What Happens When a Boy Trades Places With a Turkey? Octopuses don’t actually have tentacles; let’s get that out of the … Recently, they shared a remarkable story about a special invertebrate, Otto the Octopus. Then along came the veined octopuses. Working out the specifics of how arms sense and process information is crucial for understanding octopus intelligence, she says. Octopus intelligence is a very interesting subject. However, the octopuses simply switched technique. The octopuses were digging up discarded coconut shells from the ocean floor, cleaning them with water jets, sometimes stacking them and carrying them up to 66ft (20m) to later reassemble as a shelter. The experience may help explain the loud cheer I let out in April 2016, when I heard the news of Inky the octopus's great escape from the National Aquarium of New Zealand. "This demonstrated to me that here was an animal with a mental image of what it wanted and one that was capable of planning," says Mather. If these aren’t signs of unhappiness, I don’t know what is. This, Boal concluded, meant octopuses do have conditional discrimination abilities. Inky and his relatives may force us to think in a new way about the nature of intelligence. Cephalopod intelligence is a measure of the cognitive ability of the cephalopod class of molluscs.. Intelligence is generally defined as the process of acquiring, storing, retrieving, combining, comparing, and recontextualizing information and conceptual skills. PETA’s Holiday Gifts Celebrate the Gift That Keeps on Giving: Tofu! In Santa Monica, California, only feet away from the ocean, … The octopus always seemed to enjoy this meal. Related Stories. In each case they had to travel from the middle of a brightly-lit tank to reach a dark den, an environment they preferred. However others disagree, arguing that the octopuses could be acting in an instinctive rather than a calculated manner. One Bad Shrimp Spoils The Bunch. Octopuses can use trial and error to find the best way to get what they want. There are about 300 species of octopus, but the giant Pacific octopus is the largest, averaging 16 feet in length, and 110 pounds. "It told us that octopuses are problem-solvers," she says. ... Top 10 Awesomely Odd Animal Stories … This shows how one species of octopus, the Mimic Octopus, will change its shape to mimic different poisonous and dangerous animals of the sea. For example, octopuses kept in aquaria are often given names, which relate to how they respond to people. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. Sid, an octopus who was held captive in New Zealand, had been successful in escaping from his tank multiple times and even stayed in a drain for five days in an effort to hide before yet another escape attempt. Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox! ... a graduate student studying animal intelligence at the University of Cambridge in Britain. Continue reading the main story. Clearly, the arms can act independently to some extent. to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way. If this is true, the insights octopuses offer extend way beyond their advanced cognitive and escapology abilities. Stores and Restaurants Participating in ‘ThanksVegan’ 2020. See How You Can Win a Vegan Electric Car and Join PETA’s BIG PARTY! At first the octopuses all put the bottles to their mouths, apparently to see if they were edible, then discarded them. Mather had watched a common octopus catch some crabs and take them back to its shelter to eat. “Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. Octopuses pass their personality traits onto their offspring. [Read full story on the mobile home-building octopus] They can open childproof pill bottles. Mather and Anderson were happy to conclude that their octopuses were playing, even though only a couple of them did so. Their Limbs Are Out Of This World. Here are some interesting true stories about octopuses. Here was an animal with a mental image of what it wanted. Then there’s the alleged neglect of the Covino brothers, who own a few shoddy aquariums across the U.S. At one of their aquariums, an employee was reportedly told to change an octopus’s water less frequently, which allegedly resulted in the animal’s death. An octopus being held in captivity at Millersville University in Pennsylvania for research purposes expressed her discontent after she received a bad meal. If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". The researchers then tried to confuse their subjects by wiring Manila clams shut. Good for Sid! After learning about the work of Lethbridge University colleague Sergio Pellis on mammalian play, Mather wondered whether octopuses play. Finn pointed out that this was a slow, awkward and energy-inefficient form of movement, which made them more vulnerable to predators. Octopuses also have monocular vision, meaning they favour the vision from one eye over that from the other. Octopus intelligence may be distributed over a network of neurons, a little bit like the internet. For a long time, we thought it was unique to humans, … "If you have an octopus in any new situation, the first thing it does is it explores," says Mather. An octopus tentacle helps it feel, smell, and even make decisions. When animals use landmarks to help them navigate, they have to be understand the landmarks' relevance within their contexts. Mather and her colleagues have argued that using stones to build walls could count as tool use. When she realized the food was stale (of course, because it wasn’t caught in the wild as nature had intended), she waited for the researcher to return to her tank. Octopuses are among the most highly evolved invertebrates, and they’re considered by many biologists to be the most intelligent. In 1998, an octopus with 96 legs was caught in Matoya Bay in Mie Prefecture. Click the link to get your E-book- enjoy :-) True Octopus Bedtime Stories V1. In a study published in 1991, she concluded that octopuses have complex memory abilities. Rocky our Giant Pacific Octopus is getting [to be] quite an expert at this.”. Reading this last fact nearly broke my heart because it confirmed a feeling that I’d felt as a child when I saw a lone giant Pacific octopus at an aquarium. After all, intelligence can help an otherwise defenseless creature create new defenses, as Blue Planet II’s shark-defeating octopus so ably showed. It was an intense experience. The researchers, who published the study in 1999, argued that this was a form of exploratory play. I felt it was sizing me up, and there was an ill-defined but somehow profound communication. We wrote about the time an octopus broke into a library to read … Cephalopods—octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish—are some of the weirdest creatures on Earth. (Refer to the above fact that two-thirds of octopuses’ neurons reside in their arms.) One encounter, during field work in Bermuda in 1984, suggested to her that they were more intelligent than they were being given credit for. Every other day for two weeks, a researcher opened their tank lids and put their head close to the opening, touched the octopuses with a test tube brush, and offered them tasty crabs. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE, — Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind. Mather believes these variations in personality may underpin many of octopuses' advanced cognitive abilities, by allowing them to learn and adapt quickly. He or she, of course, looked bored and cramped in what was essentially a small glass box—but how was I to know that he or she could actually be feeling such a complex emotion? However, after several trials, two of them began blowing jets of water at the bottles. Mather concluded that they could learn based on non-visual information. There’s the dish called “sannakji,” in which an octopus’s head is split open, his or her brain is removed, and the body is served on a plate while the arms are still writhing. They are all about the same level of intelligence all the way around. Those who work with these animals know that they can be troublesome. Play has often been seen as the preserve of animals with higher cognitive abilities. Working with Seattle Aquarium biologist Roland Anderson, who died in 2014, she devised an experiment. Terms for automated texts/calls from PETA: One Good Thing 2020 Gave Us: All These New Vegan Fast-Food Options, iy_2020; im_12; id_01; ih_20; imh_34; i_epoch:1606883676495, py_2020; pm_10; pd_28; ph_11; pmh_03; p_epoch:1603908213586, link-block; link-block_link-block; bodystr, pn_tstr:Wed Oct 28 11:03:33 PST 2020; pn_epoch:1603908213586, Escaping from an aquarium is child's play when you are as smart as an octopus. And interestingly, two-thirds of their “brain” lies in their arms, not their head. These striking stories and observations offer a window into the world of the most bizarre form of “intelligent” life on the planet. They have folded lobes, similar to those of vertebrate brains, which are thought to be a sign of complexity. At the National Marine Aquarium, an employee explained, “The cheeky ones seem to have fun squirting their keepers in the face at every opportunity …. Join over five million BBC Earth fans by liking us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Not trying to change any opinions here, but their natural lifespans are bafflingly short for their intelligence, I can't remember exact numbers, but I'm pretty sure the very longest living cephalopods live somewhere around six and a half years, with the common octopus living around three on average. It can change its shape, movement and behaviour to impersonate at least 15 different species. That means the similarities in brain structure have evolved independently. (Previously, another octopus named Harry had escaped from the same tank and was found on a staircase.) What's more, the electrical patterns they generate are similar to those of mammals. Sid’s actions were so overt that the aquarium finally released him back into the wild. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital, Travel and Autos, delivered to your inbox every Friday. It is hard to precisely define it, but in broad terms play is activity that does not serve an immediately useful function other than enjoyment. In 2009, Julian Finn and colleagues at the Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia found hard evidence that they used tools. Though these criteria are difficult to measure in nonhuman animals, cephalopods seem to be exceptionally intelligent invertebrates. Even more fascinating than the similarities, however, are the differences. Play has often been seen as the preserve of animals with higher cognitive abilities. She has been studying octopuses since 1972. In many ways, octopuses' brains are rather like ours. They use a process called long-term potentiation, which strengthens the links between brain cells. And how could we forget about Paul the Octopus, who was deemed a World Cup–predicting “oracle”? They simply broke open fragile mussels, pulled apart stronger Manila clams, and used their tongue-like radulas to drill into very strong littleneck clams. ... Related Stories. Giant Pacific Octopus | Karen | CC BY 2.0. To get there they had to avoid a false burrow, which was blocked by an upside-down glass jar. They’re capable of lifting four times their body weight …. Interestingly enough, the more than 500 million neurons octopuses possess are located in their tentacles. for centuries. Otto is a resident at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany. Multiple nights in a row—baffling aquarium employees—Otto squirted water onto a light above his tank, short-circuiting the lights in the entire building! Another trick is to put six of its arms into a hole and use the remaining two to look like a banded sea krait, a type of sea snake that is, of course, venomous. His successful bid for freedom was one more piece of evidence that octopuses are some of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. "They have different strategies to achieve the same ends, and they will use whichever is easiest first.". THEY LOVE PLAYING WITH TOYS. And while individuals of the same species, such as octopuses, can vary drastically when it comes to boldness and aggression, whether this indicates that octopuses are intelligent is another story.Caldwell is the target of a larger Pacific striped octopus he keeps in his Berkeley lab — whenever he gets close to this particular octopus, it squirts him with water. Yes, the Octopus Is Smart as Heck. This means that individual octopuses behave in consistent ways, which differ from their fellows. "People often talk about rainforests as complex environments, but the near-shore coral reef is much more so," says Mather. They kept 44 East Pacific red octopuses in tanks. An octopus in Dorset, England, was aptly named Squirt after learning this technique. Read about our approach to external linking. A California two-spotted octopus at the facility decided she’d had enough, so she disassembled a valve at the top of her tank and released at least 200 gallons of water into the surrounding exhibits and offices. GIF via … She was only a foot long but strong in spirit! A good job at highlighting the complex intelligence of octopuses. Octopuses hold water in their bodies in order to soak up oxygen, and they can squirt it out by essentially exhaling. The wily octopus: King of flexibility Date: November 30, 2020 Source: Marine Biological Laboratory Summary: Octopuses have the most flexible appendages known in nature, according to a … View image of A common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) on the move (Credit: Brandon Cole/, evidence that octopuses are capable of foresight and sequencing of actions, View image of Veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus), with shell (Credit: Alex Mustard/, digging up discarded coconut shells from the ocean floor, View image of A giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) (Credit: Brandon Cole/, View image of An East Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens) (Credit: Brandon Cole/, they identified significant and consistent differences between individuals, octopuses pass their personality traits onto their offspring, may underpin many of octopuses' advanced cognitive abilities, View image of A mimic octopus pretends to be a venomous banded sole (Credit: Alex Mustard/, a leading contender for the title of "master of disguise", View image of A common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) (Credit: Claudio Contreras/, giant Pacific octopuses trying to get at the meat in different types of shellfish, View image of A California two-spot octopus (O. bimaculoides) (Credit: Visuals Unlimited/, octopuses do have conditional discrimination abilities, View image of A mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) (Credit: Jeff Rotman/, store memories in a similar way to humans, sign up for the weekly features newsletter. The best thing I’ve read lately on consciousness in non-humans is the short story, ... or whether that is even the right question. These similarities are startling. To order a copy for £17 (RRP £20) go to or call 0330 … Fortunately, she survived her attempt, but sadly, she was placed back in confinement. The intelligence of octopuses continues to astonish me. In work published in 2007, Jean Boal of Millersville University in Pennsylvania placed California two-spot octopuses in two different mazes. That's what these octopuses were doing.". The witty antics in these accounts prove that octopuses have a sense of humor, as science writer Eugene Linden has suggested. They pass their personality traits on to their offspring. The researchers recorded 19 different responses. That was because they had previously shown that octopuses have personalities. People have been intrigued by octopuses [Editor's note: Yes, octopuses is the correct plural form. Here are eight of our favourite octopus behaviours that illustrate just how smart these cephalopods really are. These creatures have an amazing mind. He could fit through a gap about two inches wide.” Aquarium officials think Sid was at an age that made him anxious to mate in the wide ocean. They change color.” But they can also distinguish between colors as well as open screw-top jars and child-proof bottles and use tools. This ability, known as conditional discrimination, has traditionally been seen as a form of complex learning: something only backboned "vertebrates" can do. When travelling across sand, it can flatten its arms against its body and undulate like a venomous banded sole. Needless to say, the researcher got the point. Apparently, Animals Dream of Learning, Too . During fieldwork in Bermuda, Mather observed octopuses returning to their dens after hunting trips without retracing their outgoing routes. Otto, an octopus being held in a German aquarium, communicated his boredom in a very straightforward manner. The lid of Inky's tank was left ajar at night, and he took advantage of this by climbing out, walking across a room to a drain opening, and squeezing down a 160ft (50m) pipe to the open ocean. matter. She says the octopuses were playing with the bottles. In 2007 I was snorkelling in Dahab, Egypt, when I came face-to-face with a common octopus. This comes as no surprise to people who work with them. Marine biologist Zoë Doubleday first studied octopuses for her PhD a decade ago, and has worked on cephalopods on and off since then, studying movement and dispersal, responses to environmental change, fisheries, and basic biology and ecology.. As for her opinion on My Octopus Teacher, she says it was a great film, although … There are grass snakes that play dead to avoid being eaten, male fish that pretend to be female to boost their reproductive prospects, and birds that feign broken wings to lure predators away from vulnerable offspring. Most of the octopuses had learned to recognise which maze they were in. Octopuses (Octopus spp.) They also visited different parts of their ranges one after another on subsequent hunts and days. Octopuses even store memories in a similar way to humans. (Thankfully, one of the brothers was recently convicted of illegally buying marine animals.) Inky, a male common New Zealand octopus, escaped his enclosure through a small opening. An octopus has three hearts that pump blue-green blood around its body, using a copper- rather than iron-based carrier for oxygen. Current subscribers: You will continue to receive e-mail unless you explicitly opt out by clicking, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Years later, I was thrilled to learn about how fascinating these animals are but also horrified to discover the myriad ways in which they’re abused. When All Else Fails, Flood the Aquarium. Octopus intelligence may be distributed over a network of neurons, a little bit like the internet More than half of an octopus's 500 million nervous system cells are in their arms. More than half of an octopus's 500 million nervous system cells are in their arms. Experts believe that octopuses have learned to be clever in order to survive without physical defenses such as spikes or shells and to navigate the complex, maze-like nature of coral reefs. Tool use is a sign of intelligence. That means the eight limbs can either act on their own or in coordination with each other. "It was very far removed from the automatic stimulus-response that we were used to thinking about with animals.". are a family of cephalopods (a subgroup of marine invertebrates) known for their intelligence, their uncanny ability to blend into their surroundings, their unique style of locomotion, and their ability to squirt ink.They are some of the most fascinating creatures in the sea, found in every ocean in the world, and every continent's coastal waters. They placed eight giant Pacific octopuses in bare tanks, and over 10 trials gave them floating plastic pill bottles to investigate. My Octopus Teacher about true story After years spent filming some of the planet’s most dangerous animals, Craig Foster was burned out, depressed and his family relationships in turmoil. Researchers who cut off an octopus's arm found that it recoiled when they pinched it, even after an hour detached from the rest of the octopus. One of my favorite radio shows is All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR). After five trial runs, most of the octopuses had learned to recognise which maze they were in and immediately headed for the correct burrow. They can slip their entire body through a hole the size of a medium-length hardcover novel. True Octopus Bedtime Stories. Using Tools. This trait tends to arise in species where the two halves of the brain have different specialisations. As if confident in the extra security measure, it then fell asleep behind the barrier. Octopuses’ intelligence is so great that they even have the capacity to feel bored. "The octopus has many potential predators and a huge array of potential food, and given their varied and varying environments it makes a great deal of sense that individuals do not fit precisely into the same niche.". Roland phoned me and said 'he's bouncing the ball'. The last common ancestor of humans and octopuses lived a long time ago, probably quite early in the history of multicellular life, and was a simple animal. When moving through open water, it mimics a lionfish, which is also venomous. Another way to communicate your discontent and make headlines at the same time is to simply squirt your captors and aquarium visitors. Mather and Anderson set out to measure these personality differences. Yet of all of nature's charlatans, the mimic octopus must be a leading contender for the title of "master of disguise". In his article for The Washington Post titled “Lurking at the Aquarium, Brilliant Houdinis of the Deep,” Darragh Johnson explains that octopuses “have been around since the dinosaurs …. Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life is published by William Collins. Given that they do not raise their young, this suggests their personalities are at least partly genetic. It was originally considered uniquely human, and is associated with higher cognitive skills such as language. But they only go so far toward answering the truly tantalizing questions. Our meeting only lasted a few seconds, but I was left with an enduring impression of having encountered a great intelligence. The love for this smart animal is spreading, and you’ll fall for them after reading the octopus facts as well. Other octopuses can change the colour and texture of their skin to give predators the slip. That is very interesting because you usually won’t find that within a species. They can remember the values of known food locations, and information about places they have recently visited. By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us. If you find octopuses as fascinating as I do, you’ll love learning more amazing facts and reading more inspiring stories about animals in the bestselling book Animalkind. Employees have admitted that Otto gets bored in the winter when the aquarium is closed. One day, at feeding time, an octopus’ owner fed him his usual tasty treat of a bucket of shrimp. And Johnson writes that, sadly, they “can die of boredom—by climbing out, but not finding a tank to climb back in.” In one disturbing instance an octopus named Octavia, who was kept at the San Pedro Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, yanked out her drain plug during the night, and was found dead at the bottom of the emptied tank the next morning. When given a choice of the three, the octopuses favoured the mussels, presumably because they required less effort to get a meal. Intelligent animals tend to display personality traits, individuals' distinctive long-standing behavioral characteristics. The bottles were sent tumbling to the other side of their aquarium, in such a way that the existing current brought them back to the octopuses. The National Zoo's new Giant Pacific octopus, saying hello … He slid across the floor during the night and squeezed … They have different strategies to achieve the same ends. While the human brain can be seen as a central controller, octopus intelligence may be distributed over a network of neurons, a little bit like the internet. They possess both long-term and short-term memories, similar to vertebrates. Just like humans, individual Octopus is able to demonstrate advanced skills of intelligence over each other. ... An octopus … He displays his boredom by juggling hermit crabs, throwing rocks at the glass, and even “redecorating” his tank by moving everything around. Now, some of the adaptations mentioned above are unrelated to intelligence, and simply reflect how cool an octopus is, but their ability to use tools and their skillful avoidance tactics, combined with certain other traits, e.g., playing, curiosity, engagement with humans, mischief, and problem-solving, suggest that these creatures are truly something special. In this video, we provide our octopus with a twist top bottle that contains a delicious snack. "I think it was Hutt who said children will go from 'what does this object do?' The octopus did this three more times, creating a wall in front of its home. The evolutionary arms race has led animals to develop many devious ways to fool each other. Coronavirus Shuts Down Universities, Prompts Mass Killing in Animal Labs. He argues that the octopuses' willingness to accept these risks, in exchange for protection in the future, is conclusive evidence of genuine tool use.

octopus intelligence stories

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