Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Of Tentacles and Tools

African or European Swallows Octopuses?

Lots of people who know my interests are sending me this amazing video of an octopus who carries a coconut shell around with him in case he ever needs a quick portable hiding place:



I've devoted a fair amount of space here in the past
to the confounding intelligence of the octopus. They should not be as intelligent as they are. They're invertebrates, a genus that by and large can't generate enough brain power to float a soap bubble. They're isolationists. Antisocial loners that don't hang out with other octopuses and regard every other species as edible or something that thinks they are edible. Every other creature known for high intelligence develops and uses it by being very social.

Octopuses largely nurture their unusual braininess in splendid isolation hiding in rocky underwater crevices poking one suspicious, bulbous eyeball out only when hungry.

And yet the only limit on the potential intelligence of the Octopus appears to be a very limited life-span. How smart could an octopus get if it could live longer than five years?

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