Here’s a phenomenon that’ll stick in your memory like an octopus sticks to a … coconut shell:
With the recent discovery that the veined octopus sometimes carries around a coconut shell to use as impromptu shelter, this eight-legged wonder is now the first known tool-using animal without a backbone. According to the biologists who made the discovery, the use of tools to build shelter is such a complicated skill that even some of smartest animals, like chimpanzees, can’t do it. (Um, the only self-enclosing “skill” I have is my sofa-cushion fort-building ability, which hasn’t been tapped since 1994—so who knows if it’s still even in me.)
Octopi are brilliant animals with sensitive short-term and long-term memories and a complex brain, so it’s no surprise that their capabilities are extensive and intricate—from mastering mazes to distinguishing between different shapes. And their intelligence runs in their extended cephalopod family. Squids send messages via dermal patterns of light and color, so think twice before you eat calamari again—those are fried little Einsteins on your plate! If scientists have only just now discovered the tool-using skills of octopi, imagine all of the other talents these mollusk marvels and their relatives have got up their tentacles.
Written by Logan Scherer