Why the Octopus should be your Favorite Animal

2017-11-22 07:31:59


Octopuses are adaptable, intelligent, and alien-looking. What’s not to love?! Judging on appearance alone, the common octopus has a bulbous head, 8 arms, and it’s mouth is its butt. These incredible creatures have numerous defensive adaptations to thwart attackers and procure prey.
One of the most well-known responses octopuses have when threatened (thanks to the adorable pink cephalopod in Finding Nemo) is the ability to discharge ink. A cloud of black ink is released that dulls the predator’s senses and allows for the octopus to swim away while its attackers view is obstructed. The jet of water through their mantle allows them to propel forward with frightening speed. Since these incredible animals have no bones, their soft bodies can squeeze into holes and cracks where large predators cannot follow.
Debatably the most amazing of their defenses is their camouflage, acting as a pixilated television screen. Matching colors, patterns, and textures in the environment thanks to a net of pigment cells and specialized muscles, they can sneak up on anyone or anything with ease. With this technique, octopuses can effortlessly hide in plain sight.
An octopus can lose an arm, if necessary, to escape a predator and regenerate another limb in its place. Their venomous saliva and powerful beak could deliver a foul bite that no diver wants to endure.
Not only are these creatures decked to the nines with defenses, but their level of intelligence is freakishly similar to ours. In an interview with Jennifer Mather, of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, she discusses the cleverness of octopus species. “By invertebrate standards it’s a huge brain, but by vertebrate standards, it’s a small brain. What's interesting about the octopus is about one third of the neurons (nerve cells) are in the brain. They have a huge neural representation in the arms, and there's a ganglion controlling every sucker, so there's quite a bit of local control,” says Mathers. While scientists are constantly debating whether or not octopuses are “conscience”, here’s a few stories for you to make your own decision.
In 2009, workers for the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in California stumbled into 200 gallons (750 liters) of seawater soaking into their brand new ecologically sensitive flooring. After some investigating, the culprit turned out to be a curious two-spotted octopus that had disassembled a water recycling valve. The meddling cephalopod then directed a tube to drain out of the tank for 10 long hours, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Mathers continued the interview discussing the trouble octopuses can cause while in aquariums. “[Octopuses] are very strong, and it is practically impossible to keep an octopus in a tank unless you are very lucky. One of the early researchers said if you leave a floating thermometer in a tank, it will last about five minutes. Octopuses simply take things apart. I recall reading about someone who had built a robot submarine to putter around in a large aquarium tank. The octopus got a hold of it and took it apart piece by piece. There's a famous story from the Brighton Aquarium in England 100 years ago that an octopus there got out of its tank at night when no one was watching, went to the tank next door and ate one of the lumpfish and went back to his own tank and was sitting there the next morning. The aquarium lost several lumpfish before they figured out who was responsible.”
Whether or not I have convinced you to love octopuses, you have to admit they are AWESOME! The ocean certainly has no shortage of wonders.