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Octopus
June 24, 2008 8:40 PM   Subscribe

How Smart Is the Octopus? [Via Pharyngula]
posted by homunculus (60 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
... do not want.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:57 PM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


answer: smart.
and, personally, want.
posted by Busithoth at 9:07 PM on June 24, 2008


... want!
posted by homunculus at 9:09 PM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


VIDEO: Octopus Sex Lives Revealed
posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, they're way too delicious to be smart. That's just not fair to anyone.
posted by Caduceus at 9:14 PM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


<3 <3 <3
posted by unknowncommand at 9:16 PM on June 24, 2008


I think they straddle some kind of line between extremely quick reflexive and instinctual adaptability and actual measurable intelligence. They could just be tricking me, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on June 24, 2008


I love this. I have such a weird thing for cephalopods.
no, not like that.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:20 PM on June 24, 2008


At least eleven smart. No wait, ten. No, eleven.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:21 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


no, not like that.

Mine is.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2008


Flamboyant Cousin
posted by Burhanistan at 9:27 PM on June 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's a "good" thing they only live for a few years otherwise we'd be welcoming our octopode overlords already.
posted by porpoise at 9:28 PM on June 24, 2008


Smart enough to toy with their victims' emotions.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:36 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a "good" thing they only live for a few years otherwise we'd be welcoming our octopode overlords already.

Oh, it'll happen eventually. The stars just aren't right yet.
posted by Caduceus at 9:37 PM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


no, not like that.

Like this? (possibly nsfw)
posted by homunculus at 9:45 PM on June 24, 2008


Those cuttlefish in the second of the two links in "Flamboyant Cousin" look disturbingly like my, admittedly sane, imagining of what the head of Cthulhu might look like.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 9:46 PM on June 24, 2008


Cuttlefish are like adorable alien hovercraft of the sea.
posted by Caduceus at 10:02 PM on June 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


I love me all octopuses, but can I take this opportunity to ask why every nature film clip has, frankly, cheesy sound effects?

I've done some websites for PBS and I can tell you, when you watch 16 straight hours of a particular series in one sitting, you're like "oh, gurgle #4 again, is it?"
posted by maxwelton at 10:03 PM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


no, not like that

Maybe like this (definitely NSFW).
posted by ikahime at 10:04 PM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


obligatory qwantz link
posted by theclaw at 10:44 PM on June 24, 2008


I will never, ever tire of cephalopod FPP's and comment threads. [+]
posted by not_on_display at 11:00 PM on June 24, 2008


I once saw this octopus camouflage Youtube link and played it over and over, simply not believing it (nor do many of the posters). Then later I saw the source, on a nature show. It is real!

Here's another showing the amazing color change capability, plus, later, an IQ test being given to an octopus.

I can't find it now, but I once saw a video of what may have been a cuttlefish placed over a black and white checkerboard. It's skin actually recreated the checkerboard pattern! If I find it I'll post.
posted by eye of newt at 12:23 AM on June 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I tell you, after Faceless Kitty, Deformed Evangelical and Woman Whose Brain Itched, it's nice to have a simple little cephalopod FPP to make everything better.
posted by lekvar at 12:28 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well I can't find the link, but in case you don't believe it, here's a description of a cuttlefish camouflaging itself next to a checkerboard.

Cthulhu indeed! The old ones lie in wait for the right time to arise!
posted by eye of newt at 12:28 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Octopi are the most awesomest of all the sea creatures. So great is their awesomicity that I commit heinous acts of language destruction like "most awesomest" in order to describe how I feel about them.

I don't keep a teddy bear on my bed, I have a stuffed squid doll.
posted by Salmonberry at 12:42 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Caduceus Man, they're way too delicious to be smart. That's just not fair to anyone.

To be fair ... so are we. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:09 AM on June 25, 2008


yay for cephalopodfilter!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:29 AM on June 25, 2008


I always liked this guy, nicknamed 'Dumbo', for obvious reasons.
posted by nudar at 3:18 AM on June 25, 2008


According to George Carlin, smarter than the average American voter.
posted by bwg at 3:27 AM on June 25, 2008


ne: 산 낙지 (live octopus) -- they're delicious, too, but be sure to dip the crawly little tentacles in sesame oil or they'll stick on the way down.

(and if you dip them in chili sauce, they'll wiggle faster...it burns, it burns!)

(I'm just glad they can't scream...)

posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:12 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I will never understand how a creature without bones can be so strong or even grab anything. Where's the leverage?!
posted by DU at 4:16 AM on June 25, 2008


I will never understand how a creature without bones can be so strong or even grab anything. Where's the leverage?!

Octopuses have elbows.
posted by cephalopodcast at 5:28 AM on June 25, 2008


<3>

LOL. That's pretty obscure but funny.

posted by cephalopodcast at 5:31 AM on June 25, 2008


Octopi don't need a posse, see?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:40 AM on June 25, 2008


So do the muscles pull on each other or what? This also applies to the (human) tongue.
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on June 25, 2008


Oh Jesus....smart, AND they kill sharks for sport. Something ELSE to be afraid of.....
posted by availablelight at 6:44 AM on June 25, 2008


Sigh. I heart octopus, I also heart pharyngula.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:46 AM on June 25, 2008


How Smart Is the Octopus?

Too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Calamari is squid, right? Are squid as smart as octopode? Because I really love octopode, but I also really love calamari.
posted by Evangeline at 7:54 AM on June 25, 2008


Dancing With Demons is Scott Cassell's story about diving at night among the Humboldt squid. He describes them as being quite intelligent and scary.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:02 AM on June 25, 2008


Great. Another order to be afraid of.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:02 AM on June 25, 2008


Oh, and let's not forget its cousin, the vampire squid from hell.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2008


Octopus are indeed playful. My wife used to work at a fish store and they had a good sized one in a tank, and whenever it could get it's tentacles around the plastic stick they kept nearby, it would hold on for dear life, and play tug-a-war with you.

We've tried to keep them, but because of their very short lifespans, their ability to hide in an almost empty tank, and their skill at killing other critters, it tends to not end well.
posted by quin at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the Wikipedia page of Jerome Lettvin, MIT cognitive scientist:

While working in the Marine Zoological Station in Naples, Italy, he [Lettvin] had a 30 foot long room in which octopus holding tanks were kept, with fine mesh metal screens to keep them from escaping. One tank, at the far end, held his youngest son's pet octopus named juvenile delinquent (JD). One day he teased JD with a stick. The next morning, his son and he came to the door and noticed a puddle under the door. Fearing the worst (broken tanks), he opened the door, and was greeted by a blast of water in his face (but not his son's face). From across the room, and through the screen, JD had perfect aim, after which he jetted to the bottom of the tank, inked it up, and hid for the rest of the day. Still confused about the water under the door, Jerry looked at the back of the door and saw a spot of water at the height of his face. JD had been practicing for revenge. From this, and other experiences, Jerry concluded that an octopus is highly intelligent, and from that time on, he never ate octopus again, out of respect for octopi as colleagues.

(I heard Lettvin tell this story in a lecture on neurology, around 1968.)
posted by beagle at 9:33 AM on June 25, 2008 [22 favorites]


Yeah, but, do we need 'em.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:38 AM on June 25, 2008


I had a friend who had a pet octopus in his aquarium. This octopus (named "Mr. Octopus" by his girlfriend's young son) was fed a shrimp as part of his daily meal. The shrimp were frozen, and he'd thaw it and then drop it into the tank. Mr. Octopus would rush to it, and after a brief OM NOM NOM NOM the shrimp would vanish.

One day my friend was too lazy to thaw the shrimp, and just dropped it into the tank still frozen. He figured it'd thaw soon enough, and then Mr. Octopus would eat it. After dropping the shrimp into the tank, he walked back over to the sofa, picked up his book and began to read.

In less than a minute he heard a small splash from behind him, and then felt the THUMP! of a frozen shrimp hitting him on the back of the head.

Mr. Octopus was apparently displeased with the condition of his dinner. I like to think his aim was spot-on.
posted by chuq at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2008 [22 favorites]


"This octopus is able to copy the physical likeness and movement of more than fifteen different species, including sea snakes, lionfish, flatfish, brittle stars, giant crabs, sea shells, stingrays, jellyfish, sea anemones, and mantis shrimp."

I can only copy three different species. Octopus wins! PERFECT!
posted by aftermarketradio at 11:50 AM on June 25, 2008


Took a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium in Woods Hole, MA, one time. There was a cinder block on top of the octopus tank. I asked why, and was told it was to keep the octopus from escaping- apparently they kept having fish go missing from other totally separate tanks in the middle of the night, and couldn't figure out why. They eventually left a video camera running all night, and saw the damn thing open its cage, climb out, do the octopus walk over to another fish tank, open it, eat the inhabitants, close the lid, go back to its own tank, and close the lid behind it.

They started with a brick and had to work their way up to a cinder block to keep the damn thing inside.

Swimming in deep water freaks me out.
posted by zap rowsdower at 12:15 PM on June 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Another interesting piece about cephalopod intelligence.
posted by beagle at 1:51 PM on June 25, 2008


From the link beagle provided:

"By giving octopuses a reward or a punishment when they attacked different objects, ..."

Hello there new world order!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:44 PM on June 25, 2008


I wonder how elephants and octopuses would get along. Two relatively smart creatures, co-operating to dominate the world...
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on June 25, 2008


An octopus ate my baby.
posted by sciurus at 6:36 PM on June 25, 2008


After 50 years, in other words, we still don't know that much about what's going on in the heads of octopuses.

I <3 this post
posted by es_de_bah at 7:22 PM on June 25, 2008


I wonder how elephants and octopuses would get along.

Quite well, if you could teach the octopus to paint its self-portrait.
posted by bwg at 4:27 AM on June 26, 2008


nah, the octopus would impersonate the elephant, and paint a picture showing a deranged rogue pachyderm trampling & goring humans to death, whereupon the elephant will be killed & hacked up into itsy bitsy little pieces (just to be sure) which will have mysteriously disappeared when the humans return, to find nothing but a peaceful, self-contained & nonchalant cephalopod happily minding its own business.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:36 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


cuttlefish camoflauge
posted by small_ruminant at 9:43 AM on June 26, 2008


Honey, I'm home!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2008


Translucent Pelagic Octopus
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on July 8, 2008


Cruel Scientists Give Octopuses Rubik’s Cubes
posted by homunculus at 10:22 AM on July 9, 2008


Dissection of a giant squid (video).
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:57 PM on July 16, 2008


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