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Loving, smart and hard to bit; octopus - intriguing facts

Updated on January 14, 2012

Who would have thought that an octopus can be a smart and loving little guy. An octopus, that is a creature of the sea, that we, humans, take for granted!

This creature has a life, has emotions and is intelligent. Surprising isn’t it? Well, not quite. Biologists have been studying this mollusk for some time and their findings are now well known. In England, octopuses are protected under the animal cruelty laws, being regarded as “honorary vertebrates”, even they are non-vertebrates.

There are many interesting facts about octopuses, about their habits and anatomy, the way they react, eat, mate or behave. Bellow I will emphasize only the ones that make them different from other creatures of the species.

octopuses by mimi
octopuses by mimi

1. Three hearts, more love!

Some of the most striking things about an octopus is that he has three hearts. Two of them are called branchial hearts and they pump blood through the gills, the third one carries blood through the body. A blue blood.

Aside from the anatomic details, I believe that these three hearts are there for a reason.
It is said that octopuses are emotional. They get easily scared and also they can have intense reaction when they are around their girlfriends (when they mate). In such circumstances one of the hearts stops for a while, like in a cardiac arrest. While a normal body, with just one heart, would die, an octopus stays alive, its other two hearts supplying the oxygen the body needs to survive.

Also, its hearts can skip some bits when the creature is too close (very close) to his girlfriend.
Other animals that have emotions are dogs, cats, primates and...fish.

2. Smarter then a rat!

Animal Planet website lists octopuses among the top ten smartest animals in the world. Though the mollusk has not been studied as much as other vertebrates like chimpanzees or rats, an octopus, it is said, has the ability to solve problems, play and learn, and have a short term memory.

Some examples include the ability to find the exit through a maze, the capability to escape predators by running, hiding and disguising, and use tools when they need it. More then one source speaks about an octopus being observed when unscrewing the lid of a jar, using its legs.

Also, some fishermen have reported that octopuses are, sometime, hijacking ships that carry crabs in search for food, just like pirates in search of treasures. In the video bellow, one smart little fella is running away with a nut shell to make a house out of it.

3. Surviving by defence

It is no doubt that there is a wild world down in the deep sea. The creatures living in the water are stalking, attacking and killing each other in order to survive. An octopus is no exception.

When he senses a danger, an octopus has many weapons for defence. Running is one of them. Not that he is a scaredy cat but because that’s the most efficient way to avoid being eaten by the big fish. An octopus can run using all or only two of he’s legs. If the hunter is too close, he can release a cloud of dark ink that cloaks him from his predator.

Then he can hide beneath the rocks or in the reefs , or using other natural hideouts.
And while he is hiding, an octopus can change its color. This species can have up to five color cell pigments as fallowing: yellow, orange, red, brown and black.

The last method an octopus can use to defense is action of autotomise. This means that he would cast one of his limbs and let it behind to distract his predator.

If an octopus manages to stay alive, he can live up to five year.In this time, he can have one or more girlfriends and some kids. And if the mother of the little one didn’t forgot to eat while taking care of her offspring and died of starvation, as it usually happens with the octopus female, they would have lived happily ever after.

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