Monday, February 01, 2010

Amphioctopus marginatus

On a few other blogs, I get into discussions about evolution and natural history in general. I found this video today and found it fascinating. In this footage shot by Dr. Julien Finn of Museum Victoria, we see a little veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, pick up and carry two halves of a coconut shell across the ocean floor. Startled, she drops the shell halves and dives inside.

You have to ask yourself, "Just how smart are cephalopods anyway?"
I have always been fascinated by octopi and the tales of how cunning they are when confronted with problems, like how to get a yummy lobster out of a corked glass problem, the octopus figures it out in a few seconds.

One of the most highly evolved creatures on the planet, octopi are camoflague experts, able to change colors and mimic background textures and ultimate shape shifters. They even have a built in smoke screen for fast get aways.
It's hard to relate to the intelligence of an alien invertebrate specie, but now animal behaviorists are claiming that the intelligence of an octopus might just rival a dog. They recognize individuals and even engage in play and curiosity behaviors.

Here we see an octopus engaged in tool use. Another example is the defensive walls they build out of stacked rocks in front of their lairs. The urban myth of the octopus who breaks out of its tank in an aquarium at night, slithers across the floor to another one and devours the inhabitants in a midnight buffet, then slinks back to its tank before the aquarium opens the next morning is true.

The limitations of octopus intelligence and evolution are very real. They represent a "dead end". Their reproductive strategy puts all of their energy in reproducing. The females lay many eggs in their lairs and spend a lot of energy defending them. Their copper rather than iron based blood is also another dead end. which limits the development of larger brains.
An octopus lives for three years. Maybe we are very lucky they don't live longer.


Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Microdot,
The octopus with all of its limitations is still smarter than the majority of Teabaggers and defiantly Sarah Palin. But with Sarah Palin, the problem is with her is that she can reproduce too.

microdot said...

Prodigiously, it would seem.
I heard that she has limited tool usage behavior and defends her lair.
Camoflague and smokescreens are a little beyond her abilities, but we can be happy thta researchers have now affirmed that the Sarahptor Palinopterous is definitely an evolutionary dead end.