Octopuses think, feel, and smell with their arms. Scientists are using them as inspiration for innovations in material science, medicine, and soft robotics.
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They can change color. They can change shape and texture. They strategize, play, and solve puzzles. They’ve got three hearts, their skin can see, their blood is blue, their magic trick is disappearing, and over half of their brain is not in their head. Instead, it’s in their arms.
Octopuses are a bit different from other cephalopods: squid and cuttlefish actually DO have tentacles. Two of those bad boys, specifically, which they use for hunting. Tentacles are often longer, and kinda slimy, with suckers or hooks at their tips.
The first thing it’s important to know about octopus arms is that they can think on their own. And while that might not sound too surprising when it comes to the third-right arm that, incidentally, functions as a penis, it’s a complete departure from how most animals that we consider “intelligent” operate.
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“Octopuses (or octopi, if you prefer) are cephalopods, invertebrates that also include squid and cuttlefish.”
For Smart Animals, Octopuses Are Very Weird
“A new hypothesis suggests that their vaunted intelligence and short-lived, solitary nature are all linked to a fourth trait.”
The Structure and Adhesive Mechanism of Octopus Suckers
“Octopus suckers consist of a tightly packed three-dimensional array of muscle with three major muscle fiber orientations: 1) radial muscles that traverse the wall; 2) circular muscles arranged circumferentially around the sucker; and 3) meridional muscles oriented perpendicular to the circular and radial muscles.”
Tusks, trunks, claws, tails. Animals have evolved in ways to adapt to their environment by developing some truly unusual physical traits. Why did elephants develop a trunk, and how does it even work? What are insect wings made of? How are tails used throughout the animal kingdom? Our host Dr. Evan Antin explores the strange world of animal physiology.
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