Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Tool Use Found in Octopuses! and pizza hut warm wishes
but the upside is that i get to crawl the internet and more often than not find wonderful new fun facts.
today's fun fact is Octopus Tool Use.
octopi are smart. this isn't really news for the science or the sci-fi community. one of my favorite sci-fi series, Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter, has a genetically bred super smart squid that flies a spaceship across the universe. as he imagined, the squid was able to learn to associate colors with certain tool use, levers and what not, that ran the ship.i think this is a fantastic idea.
so for your learning pleasure:
In captivity, some species of octopuses have solved mazes, remembered cues and passed other cognitive tests typically associated with advanced vertebrates. More anecdotally, they’re known for popping aquarium hoods, raiding other tanks and demonstrating what might be called mischief.
All this has come as a bit of a surprise to scientists. After all, octopuses are descended from mollusks. They’re more closely related to clams than to people. They’re not supposed to be smart. But it’s hard to argue with the evidence, and in recent years, researchers have grappled with the possibility that octopuses can even use tools.
That debate has focused on octopuses seen barricading their den openings with stones. In the end, that behavior wasn’t accepted as genuine tool use, because it seemed more instinctive than calculated. (Another contested invertebrate behavior is the use of shells as homes by hermit crabs. According to the conventional wisdom, tools require direct manipulation, so the shells are no more tools than are human houses.)
Such definitions are inevitably ambiguous. But there’s no ambiguity in the veined octopuses found flushing mud from buried coconut shells, stacking them for transport — an awkward process that required the octopuses to walk on tiptoe with the upturned shells clutched beneath them — and finally turning them into hard-shelled tents.
i would be very interested in having an octopi pet, though i guess i'd have to live under water...OR maybe my super smart octopi could live in my bathtub! like this "Helping Hands" monkey the octopus could give me facials, use its suckers to pass me things, ooo! or that fancy "cupping" massage like Julia Roberts use to do! hmmm, maybe this means i need a bigger bathtub.
and for your bit o'holiday joy for the day, Pizza Hut says merry xmas