Octopuses taste with their tentacles

Studying their suction cups to understand how this touch-taste system works
02 December 2020
Presented by Katie Haylor
Production by Katie Haylor.




Let’s dive into the depths and consider the octopus. As well as being famous for its 8 arms, and 3 hearts, octopus vision is also impressive: it helps them spy out dinner, among other things. But light isn’t always in great supply when you’re hunting around on the seabed, so these creatures have a fascinating ability to taste their surroundings and therefore make decisions about what to eat or not, simply by touching things. Now, a paper from scientists at Harvard explains how this touch-taste system actually works on a molecular level. By studying the cells in the suction cups of the California two-spot octopus, Lena van Giesen has found that the animals can “taste” molecules that don’t dissolve in water. What’s more, this is all taking place in the nervous system within the arm, as she told Katie Haylor...

Reference: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.09.008


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