Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coconut-Carry Octopuses

From: Defensive Tool Use In A Coconut-Carrying Octopus, Current Biology, December 14, 2009:
"We repeatedly observed soft-sediment dwelling octopuses carrying around coconut shell halves, assembling them as a shelter only when needed. Whilst being carried, the shells offer no protection and place a requirement on the carrier to use a novel and cumbersome form of locomotion — 'stilt-walking'.

To date, invertebrates have generally been regarded as lacking the cognitive abilities to engage in such sophisticated behaviors.

The discovery of this octopus tiptoeing across the sea floor with its prized coconut shells suggests that even marine invertebrates engage in behaviors that we once thought the preserve of humans."

They didn't just crawl under the shells, they carried them around! That "stilt-walking" is fantastic. From an engineering point of view, it appears to be a lot of load per tentacle. Although it is underwater. Still, I can't imagine walking across the room on the tips of my fingers and toes. That coconut shell must be precious.
Thank you, BL.


Leonard said...

I saw this on the news, wasn't that an awesome video? We totally think we are superior in the animal kingdom (ok we are) but I love how we can still be surprised and awed. The last story I read about something similar was chimpanzees using a stick to put in ant hills, when the ants crawled up the stick the chimpanzee would just lick them right off. I like when humans get humbled a bit. ;) peace

Dr. Mel said...

This is absolutely the coolest thing going! I LOVE stories about animal intelligence, finding out that they "think" and "plan" and use tools, etc. Leonard, if you like this, you should see the videos David Attenborough made of Bower birds!
Utterly cool post, Bix!