Happy World Octopus Day!

Written By
Guest Blogger

It’s impossible not to love octopuses. These cephalopods seem to have every evolutionary advantage you could imagine. Here are six of our favorites:

  1. The first and most obvious (it’s even in their name) is that octopuses have eight arms. Their arms are for much more than just reaching a difficult itch. If threatened, an octopus can sever one of its own arms to get away. The lost limb will grow back completely with all of its function. Because of its nine brains and more than half of its neurons being in its arms, individual arms can solve problems—like opening a jar—independently from the rest of the body. Octopuses also taste things by feeling them with their arms and skin.
  2. The beak is the only hard part of an octopus’ body, making it an extremely flexible animal. They can fit through anything as long as their beak can. Octopuses use their beaks to crack into their favorite shellfish meals. They can also produce a neurotoxin that paralyzes their prey and enzymes that help break down their food. The only octopus in the world with venom dangerous to humans is the blue-ringed octopus found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  3. Playing hide and seek with an octopus would probably be a nightmare. They can change the color and texture of their skin to match their surroundings. This handy camouflage keeps them safe from predators. The mimic octopus seems to have mastered this ability. It can manipulate its color and shape to look like an entirely different sea creature. It will even choose what to mimic depending on the danger or predator.
  4. Octopuses may not have mastered calligraphy, but they certainly know how to use their ink. Being able to spray ink as a smokescreen is another great way to avoid being eaten. Their ink isn’t just a ninja smoke bomb either. It can irritate the eyes of the predator or even infringe its sense of smell and taste, making it harder for them to come after the octopus.
  5. Like all of their other skills, an octopus’ maternal instinct is quite amazing. Take the giant Pacific octopus for example. This octopus can lay up to 10,000 eggs and spends the better part of a year taking care of her brood. Making sure these eggs are properly cleaned and safe from predators is a full time job, so she gives up everything for them, including eating. The mother unfortunately dies soon after the eggs hatch. Lucky for the babies, they have all the cool traits of being an octopus to protect them now that they’re on their own.
  6. On top of all of that, the octopus’ incredible intelligence has earned them the title of the smartest invertebrates in the world. Research continues to show that octopus have extreme intelligence. They use tools like rocks to protect their homes and take abandoned shells for temporary shelter. Some people even believed an octopus named Paul was psychic and could correctly guess winners of the World Cup. We wouldn’t bet on that though.

Octopuses definitely rank high on our list of the coolest ocean animals. Of all their amazing abilities, which one would you want?

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