Super senses, big brains, colour-changing bodies… Octopuses are some of the most fascinating underwater beings
Octopuses are cephalopods, which means ‘headfoot’. Their eight arms (technically not tentacles) surround the mouth and are full of strong muscles. They also contain two-thirds of the octopus’ neurons, which means they can quite literally think for themselves.
Each arm is equipped with over 250 suction cups, each able to be manipulated independently. They are also a sensory organ capable of smell and taste, ideal for seeking out food. But eight arms are a lot to keep track of, so what stops octopuses getting tied in knots?
Amazingly, its skin has a coating that prevents the suckers from sticking to itself. Arms can also be dismembered at will as a last-ditch attempt to escape a predator. They can then regrow the lost limb, a process that takes roughly two months.
These arms are also essential for swimming, but crawling over the seafloor is preferred. This is because when it swims, the octopus’ third heart, which pumps blood to its organs, stops beating, so swimming is an exhausting activity.
The octopus’ eyes are another incredible feature. Some of the most advanced in the animal kingdom, they are as complex as the vertebrate eye even though they evolved independently. Yet despite being colourful creatures, their eyes only have a single photoreceptor cell, which renders them technically colour-blind. However, they can pick out wavelengths of light by altering the shape of their lenses as the light enters their rectangular pupils. This allows them to focus on individual colours.
Suckers Each sucker is attached to the arm by a strong, muscular base, which can manipulate the sucker in any direction. Octopus anatomy Inside one of the strangest body types in the animal world is a very simple anatomical structure that performs complex tasks Growth the common octopus lives around three years. they reach maturity at around 18 months.
Egg laying Female octopuses stitch their eggs together into braids and secure them in sheltered surroundings. Development Females will often care for the eggs throughout their development, warding off hungry predators and ensuring eggs are oxygenated. Feeding the next crucial months are spent voraciously feeding, changing their prey as the young octopuses get bigger and stronger. Hatching the mother octopus gives the hatched babies a helping hand by wafting them out of the den. they are perfect miniatures of her. Mating Although solitary creatures, octopuses come together to mate. Unfortunately, this signifies the beginning of the end of their lives. The circle of life With short lifespans, ‘live fast, die young’ is an apt octopus motto