JAN 09, 2017 08:04 AM PST

What you didn't know about octopi


Classified as cephalopods, which means "head-foot" in Greek, octopi are quite different from their snail, slug, clam, and oyster cephalopod peers. While a common pond snail has approximately 10,000 nuerons, octopi such as the common octopus, about which the most research has been studied, have approximately 500 million neurons. Compmare that to the most nueronally complex invertebrates up to them - cockroaches and honeybees: those species only reach up to about one million nuerons. So for an invertebrate, octopi are on a whole other level. So much so that scientists are continually questioning and testing octopi intelligence, trying to determine how "smart" they really are.

But remember, octopi don't have a spinal cord (no bones make for great hiding and shape morphing abilities) that acts as a lifeline for the neurons to the body like we do. Instead 35% of their neurons are in their brain, which handles higher executive functions such as decision-making, learning, memory, and coordination of complex movements. Meanwhile, the rest of their neurons live in their arms! Each of an octopus's eight arms has interlinked control centers called ganglia that relay information to the brain and also independently control movements such as extending or twisting.

Now wait - it gets even cooler. Each arm has 200 to 300 suckers which are not only extremely tactile sensitive (and can individually grasp and twist), but also have taste receptors - meaning they can taste with their arms! This is actually how they do most of their hunting, and due to the fact that each arm has so many neurons itself, even when an arm is severed from an octopus's body, it can continue to hunt on its own, functioning as an independent body, and upon capturing a prey will search to bring the food to it's non-existent body's mouth.

Learn even more nifty facts - about their changing skin color and texture, crazy octopus sex positions, and get-away inking tactics from the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JAN 21, 2019
Cardiology
JAN 21, 2019
Avoiding Injuries In Youth Sports
It is widely accepted that youth sports are good for children. When asked why they've enrolled their children into sports programs, parents often speak...
JAN 21, 2019
Videos
JAN 21, 2019
Gene Therapy For Blood Disorders
Gene therapy continues to advance rapidly with new technology since 2008. It is a promising therapeutic avenue in medicine that could safely alter our DNA ...
FEB 04, 2019
Videos
FEB 04, 2019
Biodegradable Packaging, Inspired by Fungus
The planet is awash in plastic, and disposing of it is challenging. But we can start to reduce its use....
FEB 11, 2019
Space & Astronomy
FEB 11, 2019
Ever Wonder How Long You'd Survive On Other Planets Without a Space Suit?
The Earth is the only known habitable planet in the solar system, yet curious minds still wonder: what would happen if you visited another world without a...
FEB 13, 2019
Plants & Animals
FEB 13, 2019
Many Pet Goldfish Never Reach Their Life Expectancy, and Here's Why
Goldfish are a favorite pet among both adults and children, but most pet goldfish are lucky to survive for just five years before kicking the bucket despit...
FEB 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 21, 2019
Turning Plastic Wastes into Battery Parts
Upcycling is the process of turning low-value materials or even waste into something highly valuable. A group of American and Mexican chemists reported tha...
Loading Comments...