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Octopus Chronicles

Octopus Chronicles


Adventures and Discoveries with the Planet's Smartest Cephalopods
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    Katherine Harmon Courage Katherine Harmon Courage is a freelance writer and contributing editor for Scientific American. Her book Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature In the Sea is out now from Penguin/Current. Follow on Twitter @KHCourage.
  • Common Octopus Proves Uncommonly Difficult to Define

    The seemingly ubiquitous common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is our platonic octopus ideal. Even if Plato didn’t write about it, Aristotle did. And since then, it has been the most widely studied (and consumed) species. But contemporary science is complicating things, a new paper, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, details. The [...]

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    Dumbo Octopus Gives Rare View [Video]

    New, stunning video from a deep-sea vehicle reveals a rare view of the Dumbo octopus. Don’t let the name fool you—the Dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis) is no dummy. And those protrusions on the side of its body are not—like its cartoon namesake flaunts—big ears, but rather fins, which help it swim above the seafloor. This strange and [...]

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    Octopus-Inspired Camouflage Flashes to Life in Smart Material

    Octopuses and their cephalopod cousins are the undisputed masters of disguise. An octopus can change its color, texture and luminosity faster than you can say “camouflage.” So far our lowly human attempts at imitation have been quite crude. But a flashy new smart material might just be our closest step yet. The main tool the [...]

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    Happy 8/8! Can You Spot These 8 Hiding Octopuses?

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    We must wait patiently two more months until the official International Octopus Day. But August 8th (8/8) is reason enough to celebrate these awesome, eight-armed creatures. But octopuses are the shy retiring type. With darn amazing camouflage. Even experienced underwater divers and scientists often have a difficult time spotting them (I sure did when I [...]

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    Octopus Eggs Need Helpful Bacteria to Stay Healthy, Too

    We’re just learning how important certain microbes can be to our own health. They can help us digest foods and protect us from harmful invaders. New research suggests that certain bacteria are also crucial for octopuses—especially when they’re just starting out. The findings were published online in Aquaculture Research earlier this month. A team of [...]

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    Scrawny Wonderpus Puts Stranglehold on Mightier Mimic Octopus

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    Earlier this week, we learned that female octopuses sometimes strangle—and then possibly eat—their male mates. For a cannibalistic animal with long arms, perhaps we—and the male—should have seen that one coming. (Especially since the female apparently had already gotten what she needed out of the rendezvous.) But an additional report finds that octopus strangulation is [...]

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    Female Octopus Strangles Mate, Then Eats Him

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    Octopuses do the darndest things. Like kill their mate during mating—by strangling him with three arms, according to new observations from the wild. Enterprising scientists Christine Huffard and Mike Bartick watched wild octopuses in action. They found that, for males, mating can be a dangerous game. Especially when your lady has long limbs. Some of [...]

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    DNA Finds New Octopus Species Hiding in Plain Sight

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    Describing a new species for science is not quite as easy as it was in the days of 17th- or 18th-century naturalists. But that just means we have to look a little more closely. Such as, into an organism’s DNA. And rather than hunting through the dense jungles for years, scientists can, with a little [...]

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    Meet Your Dr. Octopus: Surgical Octo Arms

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    Robotic surgery has proved itself to be less than perfect so far. Stiff robotic limbs, burning surfaces, numerous complications. But what if that surgeon’s assistant was less like a standard robot—and more like an octopus? A team of researchers is hoping to use inspiration from the octopus’s flexibility and chemical complexity to develop a new [...]

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    Stunning Video Explains How Octopuses Out-Change Chameleons

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    Chameleons are often considered the quintessential color-changers. But the octopus outdoes them—using an entirely different mechanism to alter its appearance. “Octopuses are one of the best animals on the planet at camouflage—they change color, shape and texture,” explains James Wood, a marine biologist in a recent video for the site Macronesia. Chameleons depend on hormones to cue their color [...]

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