Octopus Goes Coconuts!

– – Having taken Invertebrate Zoology , I for one have long thought that some invertebrates are smarter than what we usually give them credit for being, especially higher mollusks like cephalopods.–Well, Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that gathers coconut shells for shelter, behavior which researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal!–Yeah yeah, I know about SpongeBob, but he doesn’t count…plus I find him annoying!

The scientific community has long debated about how to define tool use in the animal kingdom, being as how they don’t ordinarily have access to Black and Decker equipment.  The Australian researchers defined a tool as an object carried or maintained for future use, and the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selected halved coconuts from the ocean floor chucked there by humans, emptied them out, carried them under their bodies for up to 65 feet, and then assembled the two halves together to make a spherical hiding spot!–Isn’t that totally cool?!–One biologist described himself as gobsmacked, an expression I’d like to see re-integrated into the popular culture…

This is different from what hermit crabs do as the octopus is collecting the shells for later use, showing a capability for complex behavior.–Respect your local octopus!

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4 Comments on “Octopus Goes Coconuts!”

  1. carycomic Says:

    And, if you don’t believe Vulpes, just check out “Sea Siege” by Andre Norton.

  2. carycomic Says:

    I believe you. I saw a rerun of the report on CNN, later that same night!


  3. […] that featured in Current Biology was covered broadly in the media – by the  BBC and bloggers alike, which I am thrilled to see as it involves an animal I think is awesome. The […]


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