Today, after more than three years, I must bid farewell to Octopus Chronicles on ScientificAmerican.com. It has been a wild, weird, and fun run.
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).
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.
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 [...]
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).
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.
For cannibals, octopuses seem to be surprisingly fun loving. Some have been observed using their funnels to repeatedly blow objects around in their tanks.
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.
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.
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.
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