Octo phys­i­ol­ogy

Su­per senses, big brains, colour-chang­ing bod­ies… Oc­to­puses are some of the most fas­ci­nat­ing un­der­wa­ter be­ings

How It Works - - ENVIRONMENT -

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

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