What’s in it for me? Take a wondrous and thoughtful look at the underwater life of the octopus.
Other Minds Peter Godfrey-Smith – If you’ve ever seen an octopus in real life, you doubtless noticed its graceful and curious movements. These amazing creatures of the sea have not only made researchers question long-held beliefs about the intelligence of animals; they also offer a beautiful example of what the long and complex process of evolution can produce.
What’s more, the octopus is not only beautiful; it’s also remarkably intelligent. In fact, their cleverness has led some to question the traditional scientific opinion that animals don’t experience the same kind of self-aware consciousness as humans.
This helps help you understand the evolution, biology and intelligence of the octopus. In doing so, they pose interesting questions about the nature of animal consciousness.
In this article, you’ll also discover
- what the octopus looked like millions of years ago;
- why you might be able to say that octopus skin has a mind of its own; and
- what jay birds may be able to tell us about animal intelligence.
The octopus, once a harmless mollusk, evolved into a jet-propelled predator.
Most of us have never been up close and personal with an octopus, but an initial interaction might look like this: you reach out a hand and the octopus grabs hold of it, using its suckers, which provide a disturbingly tight grip. As it pulls you closer, you might realize that it’s actually tasting you, thanks to the millions of nerve cells that are contained in the arm that is being wrapped around your hand.
While the octopus is a fearsome predator today, millions of years ago it was a rather harmless, limpet-like mollusk, with a hard shell that protected it from predators. Like today’s mussels and oysters, it likely had one meaty foot that it used as an anchor and to crawl along the seabed.
However, around 125 million years ago, this single foot began to change and sprout arms that allowed it to grab and manipulate objects. These arms meant that the octopus was no longer the prey. Now it was a predator.
But if it was going to become one of the great predators of the sea, it couldn’t just crawl along the seabed hoping to stumble upon its next meal. So the next defining evolutionary change came when it lost the shell and began to swim.
Eventually, the hard shell turned into a soft balloon-like protrusion that could be filled with gas to make it buoyant. Evolutionary changes also allowed the octopus to propel itself with great bursts of speed by shooting out water through a tube-shaped funnel. This tube can be pointed in any direction to make quick attacks or escapes, and it was this advancement that took the octopus off the seabed and into the vast, murky depths of the ocean.
Octopus skin can change color and react to its environment without the aid of the brain.
Imagine that you’re scuba diving and you come to a coral reef, where you notice something hiding under a ledge, its color perfectly matching its surroundings. As you approach………….
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