Do you Think you Know the Octopus?

January 30, 2018

Did you know that one of the smallest octopuses can kill a human in under 90 minutes? The Blue Ring octopus can! Don’t worry, there have only been 3 cases in the last 100 years on record. Octopuses are one of the most intelligent and one of the greatest escape artist in the animal kingdom.

They lack air bladders and gas pockets which enable them to live at great depths; they take on 15,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. The Blue Ring has 2 eyes and 3 hearts; the first heart circulates blood throughout the body, and the other two rest on top of the gills and pump blood for each gill. Octopuses have copper based blood, not like humans who have iron based blood, so they have blue blood instead of red! They have a ring shaped brain in which the esophagus goes through. Octopus eat small food, so it doesn’t bump their brain. As most people might think that an octopus has 8 legs, they actually have 6 legs and 2 arms. The arms actually act individually because an octopus’s’ neurons are located in their limbs not their brain. Octopuses also have no bones, so the hardest part of their body is their beak, which on average is 1 inch in diameter; this means a 600 pound octopus can fit through a 25 cent quarter hole. An octopus’s beak wasn’t always just a beak; before they evolved into what they are now they had shells. Their beak also contains toxic venom that paralyzes the prey, which later kills them. Octopuses are relatives to animals like the clam and the snail.

Octopuses are very social and live in groups of 3 to 40, but they still have to take on the huge and dangerous ocean by themselves most of their lives. One way they do this is by using camouflage.  Most octopuses can change shape, color, and texture by matching their environment in under a second, but the convenient thing is that they are colorblind. Octopuses change their texture by using muscles that push out their skin to match their environment’s texture. They also can change color because they have cells called chromatophores that open and close to allow pigment to show or hide. If this method doesn’t work, their last resort is using their ink. One way they use it is to obviously distract their predator; the second way actually attracts some predators to the ink because of amino acid called taurine. If the second way doesn’t work, the ink will stick to the predator and slow down their nervous system, which slows their movement down, allowing the octopus to escape. If none of these methods work and their leg or arm is bitten off, it will grow back in about 150 days. This is helped with the protein AChE which is most active between day 21 through 41.  

Octopuses are interesting creatures that amaze humans’ minds today. They survive the dangerous ocean by themselves using unique abilities. Who knew that octopuses had so many fitting adaptations for their survival!

 

References:

 

“Octopuses Are the World’s Greatest Escape Artists.” YouTube, Animalogic, 20 May 2016, www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa-JC8-_YuMpItVQ4Y6Ik85jbxi4kd4vQ.

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