November 7th, 2008


Otto’s revenge

Octopus Arm
Source: Mary Somerville, On molecular and microscopic science (J. Murray, 1869) 247
Don’t mess with the Octopus! This eight-armed cephalopod, living in an aquarium at Sea-Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, didn’t like the bright light overhead in his living quarters. So he put it out by squirting it with water—several times. Aquarium workers kept a watch at night to find out what was going on. It seems that in addition to blowing out his aquarium light Otto likes to juggle his hermit-crab aquarium-mates; he also amuses himself by redecorating (“Otto the octopus wreaks havoc”, Telegraph (UK) 3 Nov 2008).
Octopuses are masters of disguise; they are among the smartest of invertebrates.
  • They are capable of “observational learning”, that is, of learning by observing the behavior of other octopuses.
    Graziano Fiorito and Pietro Scotto, “Observational learning in Octopus vulgaris”, Science 256, no. 5056 (Apr 1992) 545–547.
  • They can learn to open jars containing prey.
    Graziano Fiorito, G. B. Biederman, Valerie A. Davey and Francesca Gherardi, “The role of stimulus preexposure in problem solving by Octopus vulgaris”, Animal Cognition 1.2 (Oct 1998) 107–112; doi 10.1007/s100710050015.