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Octopus Chronicles

Octopus Chronicles

Adventures and Discoveries with the Planet's Smartest Cephalopods

Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists' Declaration)

Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that "consciousness" probably does not only exist in us?This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens , according to the new Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (pdf), which was signed last month by a group of cognitive neuroscientists, computational neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists who attended the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Cambridge University in the U.K."The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness," the scientists wrote...

August 21, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

How Octopuses Make Themselves Invisible [Video]

The octopus is an amazing master of disguise. It can essentially vanish, right before your eyes, into a complex scene of colorful coral or a clump of kelp waving in the currents.For a view of this phenomenon in reverse, check out this now-viral video shot by Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory senior scientist Roger Hanlon...

June 1, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

What Can an Octopus Teach Us About National Security? A Q&A with Ecologist Rafe Sagarin

Octopuses possess camouflage abilities that put some of our military's best high-tech efforts to shame. And their flexible, intelligent arms are the envy of roboticists and artificial intelligence engineers worldwide.But these animals, which have evolved over hundreds of millions of years, can teach us even more about security in the 21st century than camo and communications, Rafe Sagarin argues in his new book Learning from the Octopus: How secrets from nature can help us fight terrorist attacks, natural disasters and disease (Basic Books, April 2012).Sagarin suggests we take cues from octopuses and other organisms in the natural world to make our responses to all kinds of threats—from sophisticated terrorist cells to emerging infections—more robust and adaptable.Sagarin is a research scientist at the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment...

April 5, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Octopuses Reveal First RNA Editing in Response to Environment

Without genetic change we'd be nowhere—well perhaps just unicellular blobs kicking around in ponds. Alterations in DNA, such as point mutations, duplications, rearrangements and insertions from microbial neighbors, have helped humans and our deep-time ancestors climb out of the swamps and, in our case at least, start swimming in backyard pools.But these basic tools of evolution don't entirely explain how we and other organisms have evolved to be so complex...

January 5, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

How Does a Fish Mimic a Mimic Octopus? [Video]

Mimic octopuses ( Thaumoctopus mimicus ) have one-upped their well-camouflaged cousins by actively impersonating other sea creatures—such as venomous sea snakes and lionfish—by changing their body shape and movement...

January 5, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Why Is the New Deep-Sea Antarctic Octopus So Pale?

Recent expeditions to Antarctic seafloor vents have yielded haunting new images of hairy-bellied yeti crabs, a seven-armed starfish and an eerily pale octopus—its curling arms encased in almost translucent skin.This octopus, along with the dives' other finds, were documented via ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and described earlier this week in PLoS Biology ."The first survey of these particular vents, in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, has revealed a hot, dark, 'lost world' in which whole communities of previously unknown marine organisms thrive," Alex Rogers, a professor in Oxford University's zoology department who led the team, said in a prepared statement.The octopus, found at 2,394 meters below sea level (nearly a mile and a half down), of course, isn't the first deep-sea—or the first vent-dwelling—octopus to be discovered...

January 5, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
Land-Walking Octopus Explained [Video]

Land-Walking Octopus Explained [Video]

The slimy-looking cephalopod, captured in a rare video crawling over land, has many people (queasily) asking whether such bizarre-looking behavior is unusual for these animals.

November 24, 2011 — Katherine Harmon Courage

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