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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.
  • Farewell from Octopus Chronicles—And an Ode To a Tool-Wielding Octopus [Video]

    octopus veeptopus

    Today, after more than three years, I must bid farewell to Octopus Chronicles on It has been a wild, weird, and fun run. Thank you to all who have come along for the swim! I began this blog as an outlet for all of the amazing octopus research that I couldn’t fit into my [...]

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    Octopus Genome Remains Elusive—But Full of Promise


    As many mysteries as the octopus holds—its comprehensive camouflage, smart suckers, agile brain—its genome is surely holding many more (including how it can regenerate its arms—suckers, nerves and all). “It is astonishing that with the explosion of genome resources for so many life forms, there is not yet available a single assembled cephalopod genome,” wrote an [...]

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    There Are Plenty of Octopuses In the Sea—Or Are There?


    First a moment to celebrate Octopus Chronicles‘ 100th post! Little could I have imagined when I started this blog in November 2011 that there would be so much amazing octopus research to cover—and so many wonderful readers. Thank you! But one thing I have learned in following the field so closely is that we have [...]

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    7 Surprising Things Penguins of Madagascar Gets Right about Octopuses—and 4 It Gets Wrong

    octopus dave

    It’s not very often that a movie comes out that features an octopus as one of the main (speaking) characters. (And they only occasionally become the star of a video game.) So if you wouldn’t mind indulging me for a brief detour into animation territory, let’s see what Hollywood gets right (and wrong) about this [...]

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    Rare Octopuses Get Their Close-Up

    There are some 300 known species of octopus. From the huge giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) to the tiny poisonous blue-ringed octopus (genus Hapalochlaena), from the shallow-water mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) to the deep-sea Dumbo octopus (genus Grimpoteuthis). But most of what we know about the animal comes from a few well-studied, (semi) lab-tolerant species. [...]

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    Soft Octopus Escape—and Paperback Octopus! Release [Video]

    octopus book paperback

    Octopuses long ago shed their ancestors’ protective shells in favor of a slinkier, floppier, softer existence. They were perhaps never meant to be held down by hard covers. In fact, many scientists credit this unlikely evolution for their wily intelligence. That is why I am extra excited for the publication of Octopus! The Most Mysterious [...]

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    Octopus Play and Squid Eyeballs—and What They Can Teach Us about Brains

    For cannibals, octopuses seem to be surprisingly fun loving. Some have been observed using their funnels to repeatedly blow objects around in their tanks. Others, such as one common octopus named Dorian, have spent a countless minutes passing Lego blocks around among their many arms or towing them back and forth across the surface of [...]

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    Mistaken Octopus Sex Identity Leads to Multi-Armed Wrestling Match [Video]

    The octopus, by in large, practices very safe sex. You would, too, if you and the object of your affection were both cannibals. But the algae octopus (Abdopus aculeatus) has developed a relatively sophisticated mating system that involves far more close contact than many other octopus species. In populations of these cephalopods, males and females [...]

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    New Octopus Disguise Material for the Human World [Video]

    It’s no doubt that, with a repertoire of everything from colorful coral to a poisonous sea snake, the octopus could win any costume contest handily. But while most of us are picking our way through fake fangs and unnecessarily revealing outfits, one team of researchers is working to bring the octopus’s camouflaging skills to the [...]

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    Is Smell the Key to an Octopus’s Heart?

    We know that octopuses have awesome visual systems and super-sensitive suckers. We have even learned that they can hear. But little scientific attention has been paid to their sense of smell. And new research suggests that the octopus’s olfactory system could play a strong role in the octopus’s life cycle—especially when it comes to mating. [...]

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