Sunday, November 20, 2022

Some Octopuses Throw Things With Intentions

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Nature, Wildlife, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Octopuses are known for their solitariness. Because the gloomy (what a name)/Sydney octopus live "at very high densities, a team of cephalopod researchers decided to film the creatures with underwater cameras to see whether - and how - they interact."

According to the short report in the journal Nature by Emma Marris, "one behavior stood out: instances in which the eight-limbed creatures gathered shells, silt or algae with their arms - and then hurled them away, propelling them with water jetted from their siphon." That they were actually "targeting one another" was suggested by these clues: direct contacts occurred "when the thrower was displaying a uniform dark or medium body color, sometimes the recipients were seen to duck,
throws that made octo-contact were also more likely to be accomplished with a specific set of arms, and the projectile was more likely to be silt."

According to one of the researchers, the "behavior is probably social" and this finding according to another octopus neurologist "opens a new door for inquiries into the social lives of this family clever animals."

Marris's article may be read here which links to the original report (also fully available) and includes two photographs (short GIFs) from the original paper of the throwing behavior.



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