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Author Topic: How intelligent are octopuses?  (Read 11348 times)

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« on: 08/12/2008 21:03:14 »
From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3328480/Otto-the-octopus-wrecks-havoc.html

Staff believe that the octopus called Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.

The short-circuit had baffled electricians as well as staff at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who decided to take shifts sleeping on the floor to find out what caused the mysterious blackouts.

A spokesman said: "It was a serious matter because it shorted the electricity supply to the whole aquarium that threatened the lives of the other animals when water pumps ceased to work.

"It was on the third night that we found out that the octopus Otto was responsible for the chaos.

"We knew that he was bored as the aquarium is closed for winter, and at two feet, seven inches Otto had discovered he was big enough to swing onto the edge of his tank and shoot out the 2000 Watt spot light above him with a carefully directed jet of water."

Director Elfriede Kummer who witnessed the act said: "We've put the light a bit higher now so he shouldn't be able to reach it. But Otto is constantly craving for attention and always comes up with new stunts so we have realised we will have to keep more careful eye on him - and also perhaps give him a few more toys to play with.

"Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better - much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants."
« Last Edit: 09/12/2008 13:16:15 by DoctorBeaver »


 

Offline Make it Lady

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #1 on: 08/12/2008 23:01:55 »
Poor Otto why don't they switch his light off at night if that is what he wants. No they just put it higher up.
 

Offline JnA

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #2 on: 08/12/2008 23:44:45 »
I love these little guys.. spend most of my diving time looking for and watching them. Have 'played' a few times.

Otto might need a 'sleep mask'   for Christmas.




Octopi?
Octopodes?
octopusses?
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #3 on: 09/12/2008 08:00:51 »
My biology teacher in high school told a story of an octopus who was lifting the lid of its tank, making its way across the floor to a tank on the other side of the room, having his fill of the fish there, then returning to his own tank. They were apparently baffled at where the fish were going so they set up a video camera to find the culprit!
 

Offline RD

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #4 on: 09/12/2008 08:40:03 »
Screw-topped containers (and U-bends) are not a problem ... http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=T8cf7tPoN5o

They do impersonations too ... http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=H8oQBYw6xxc&feature=related
« Last Edit: 16/12/2008 21:02:10 by RD »
 

Offline dentstudent

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #5 on: 09/12/2008 08:50:32 »
I believe that each of the legs of an octopus also is capable of independent processing (I have no idea what word I'm looking for - help?!) so the legs can move around without having to rely on messages from its brain. 
 

Offline BenV

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #6 on: 09/12/2008 11:36:28 »
We discussed this (how the octopus brain controls the arms) in a QotW a while ago:

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/questions/question/1644/

We put this question to professor Scott Hooper, of the University of Ohio

A 2001 article in Science by Sumbre, Gutfreund, Fiorito, Flash, and Hochner has the answer. Octopus arms contain a very large number of neurons. To show that these neurons generate arm movements, Sumbre and her co-workers amputated octopus arms and then electrically stimulated nerves in the arms that normally carry information to the arms from the brain. This stimulation induced normal arm movement and, importantly, in many cases the movements did not begin until after the stimulation had ended. These experiments thus showed that signals from the brain trigger arm movements (they give the command to move), but it is the peripheral nervous systems (one in each arm) that calculate how to actually make the movements.

This is clearly a very efficient way to do things, because it means the brain can concentrate on the environment and responding to it, not on boring calculations about what muscles to activate. This same efficiency is present in human nervous systems. When we walk, it is spinal neural networks, not the brain, that calculate in what order and how strongly the leg muscles need to be activated to produce walking. The higher parts of the brain are thus free to do other things such as looking for predators, thinking, and talking on radios.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #7 on: 09/12/2008 11:45:22 »
JnA - I did wonder about the plural. I have always used octopi, but on a recent television documentary they were saying octopuses (1 S or 2?).
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #8 on: 09/12/2008 11:51:00 »
I remember seeing a program about octopuses some time ago and 1 of them went through a tube that you would never have thought it could even get into. It's amazing how thin they can make themselves.

But I still think the most amazing thing about them is their ability at camouflage. Squillions of cells on their skin that can each take a different colour from the next. Like a squishy LCD television. (I think this was also discussed here quite a while back)

Watch this little clip - especially the slo-mo reverse at the end. It's incredible.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5229677887750764917
 

Offline dentstudent

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #9 on: 09/12/2008 12:02:03 »
The Oxford Dictionary


English words of Latin or Greek origin have rather unpredictable plurals, and each one usually depends on how well established that particular word is. It may also depend on whether the Latin or Greek form of the plural is either easily recognizable or pleasant to the speaker of English.


Although it is often supposed that octopi is the 'correct' plural of octopus, and it has been in use for longer than the usual Anglicized plural octopuses, it in fact originates as an error. Octopus is not a simple Latin word of the second declension, but a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, and its 'correct' plural would logically be octopodes.

Other words ending in -us show a very varied pattern. Like octopi, the plural hippopotami is now generally taken to be either funny or absurdly pedantic, and the usual plural is hippopotamuses. Common usage appears to indicate a slight preference for termini rather than terminuses, but syllabuses rather than syllabi. Other usual forms include cacti and gladioli, and our files at the dictionary department show scarcely any examples of nucleuses or funguses. (Omnibi is simply a joke, and quite ungrammatical in Latin!)

Among words ending in -um it seems worth drawing attention to the word curricula, plural of curriculum, and warning against confusion with the adjective curricular (as in extra-curricular).
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #10 on: 09/12/2008 12:09:22 »
Stuart - Does German suffer the same problems?
 

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #11 on: 09/12/2008 12:20:53 »
As far as "octopus" goes, there is not really a problem. In German, octopus is "die Krake", and so follows standard pluralisation to "die Kraken". Its etymological root is different to the english word, as seen in this Wiki piece:

"Kraken is the definite article form of krake, a Scandinavian word designating an unhealthy animal, or something twisted.[2] In modern German, Krake (plural and declined singular: Kraken) means octopus, but can also refer to the legendary Kraken (Terrell, 1999)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kraken
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #12 on: 09/12/2008 12:25:02 »
I wasn't referring specifically to Krake - the etymology of which I was already familiar with being a lover of Norse mythology. I'm sure there must be some words of Latin or Greek derivation that are used in German. Or have they all been Krautised?
 

Offline dentstudent

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #13 on: 09/12/2008 12:32:20 »
I was trying to think of some whilst I was doing that post, but none came to mind. I'll ask around......
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #14 on: 09/12/2008 12:51:59 »
Thank you. I'm intrigued now.
 

Offline Meghunter99

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #15 on: 14/12/2008 00:52:35 »
I do remember watching a special on the Discovery Channel a few years back talking about octopi and the various other related organisms. One of the experiments they showed was one in which an octopus was given to holes to crawl into, one with food, and one without. The octopi were shown to remember the familiar pattern of the food holes, and were able to anticipate which one to go into.

A similar experiment, in the same program, was done to cuttlefish, but I don't recall what exactly happened with them.
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #16 on: 16/12/2008 16:00:43 »
I wonder how long they can go out of water? Do you think the story my biology teacher told is possible? Do they breath with gills?
 

Offline Don_1

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #17 on: 16/12/2008 17:06:10 »
These are truly marvellous creatures. They breath with gills situated inside the beak. Although far from being the sea monsters they have often been portrayed as in fiction, it is thought that the giant octopus Enteroctopus dofleini can grow up to 9m across and weigh in at around 1/4 ton.

Octopus have been observed taking 4ft sharks as prey. http://video.pbs.org:8080/ramgen/wnet/nature/octopus/sharkT1.rm

There is an amphibious octopus called the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

As for the plural of octopus, it's easy to get around. Just say 'Look, there's an octopus, and there's another one'.

« Last Edit: 16/12/2008 17:07:47 by Don_1 »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #18 on: 16/12/2008 18:15:08 »
Quote
As for the plural of octopus, it's easy to get around. Just say 'Look, there's an octopus, and there's another one'.

That would get a bit of a bind if there were 20 or more  ;D
 

Offline Don_1

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #19 on: 16/12/2008 18:16:05 »
FOG
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #20 on: 16/12/2008 18:43:35 »
Not at all. I wasn't being pedantic, merely pointing out the impracticality of your suggestion.
 

Offline MonikaS

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #21 on: 16/12/2008 20:44:54 »
I wasn't referring specifically to Krake - the etymology of which I was already familiar with being a lover of Norse mythology. I'm sure there must be some words of Latin or Greek derivation that are used in German. Or have they all been Krautised?

<German Language MA Mode> Yes, German has a tendency to krautise (I'm so gonna steal this word LOL) foreign words.
Here are some examples:
das Forum -> die Foren
das Virus -> die Viren
das Datum -> die Daten
der Kaktus -> die Kakteen
der Globus -> die Globen
Most latin based words mostly get -en attached to the word stem.

English loan words get a different treatment, plurals are mostly formed with -s. Verbs like to download get the normal german declension. The Duden (our German orthography bible) has this already codified, much to the distress of language purists. </German Language MA Mode>
Monika
 

Offline dentstudent

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #22 on: 18/12/2008 07:49:42 »

There is an amphibious octopus called the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.


Is this one anything to do with suckers?
 

Offline Don_1

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #23 on: 18/12/2008 08:52:00 »

There is an amphibious octopus called the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.


Is this one anything to do with suckers?

Awww shucks! Sussed again!
 

Offline dentstudent

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #24 on: 18/12/2008 08:58:14 »
 [^] [^] [^] As smug as Sluggy "Smug" McSmug, winner of last year's "Mr Smug Slug" awards.

The results of the test were rather alarmimg though - did you hear?
 

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How intelligent are octopuses?
« Reply #24 on: 18/12/2008 08:58:14 »

 

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