Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coconut-shell carrying octopus

In this December 10 photograph taken near Indonesia
and released by Museum Victoria, a veined octopus hides
in a coconut shell. Melbourne scientists have filmed the
octopus collecting coconut shells for shelter.
Picture: AP Source: AP

I had to share this with you. The article was in the Melbourne Herald/Sun today and the following text from the newspaper and website. As the scientists, I find it absolutely gobsmacking!

Melbourne scientists discover octopus that carries and hides in coconuts

The bizarre antics of a coconut-shell carrying octopus have been caught on film by Melbourne researchers in a startling world first. Watch how this octopus uses a coconut shell to get up and running.

VIDEO: Coconut-shell carrying octopus

Scientists from the Museum of Victoria couldn't believe their eyes when they saw the creatures using coconut shells as tools in the waters off Indonesia.

"The first time I saw it I just about drowned," research biologist Dr Julian Finn said. "This was the first recorded tool use by an invertebrate and what it shows is that it's not a skill just limited to humans and apes.

"These animals were collecting shells for use later when it would put two halves together. That shows anticipation from a creature and it's exciting stuff for us."

Dr Finn and research partner Mark Norman spent more than 500 hours diving in remote Indonesian waters to observe and film the animals between 1999 and 2008.

Their findings were included in the journal Current Biology released for the first time yesterday. As part of the project, the pair witnessed octopuses dig out coconut shells from the ocean floor, empty the shells of mud using jets of water, stack two empty shells hollow-side up and carry the shells underneath their body in a unique lumbering gait they call "stilt-walking.".

The octopus antics are the most complex ever recorded.

Dr Finn said while many octopuses used available objects like shells or rocks for shelter, the veined octopus (also known as the Amphioctopus marginatus), went a step further by preparing, arranging and carrying pairs of coconut shells up to 20 metres to reassemble as a shelter.

The research and accompanying video footage has sparked a huge response from world-wide media outlets with the two scientists fielding interview requests today from as far as the UK, France and Japan.

The response has been enormous," Dr Finn said.


Susan said...

And here I've been thinking they're just dumb blobs! How wrong was that! Very cool!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Alaine!! I saw this on the evening news and your word best describes everyone's reaction: 'gobsmacked'!! Imagine an octupus using reasoning to figure out that he could make something out of coconut shells!!
There is so much more intelligence out there than we give our fellow creatures credit for. What hubris to imagine we are the main carriers of intellect.

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

And we think we're the intelligent ones?!

Friko said...

and it's not even April 1st........

Alaine said...

Susan, aren't they!

Alaine said...

Bonnie & Derrick, I've always thought they had wise eyes!!

Alaine said...

Friko, did you watch the video? They're no fools!

Wanda said...

I saw your comment at the golden fish blog about the book Prodigal Summer, it is my most favorite book! It changed me!

Alaine said...

Hello Wanda! Thanks for that further rev about Prodigal Summer; I must get it now! Actually, the person whose review I read is Rachel McAdams, star of the film, Sherlock Holmes. She said, "The best book I've read lately is Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. I don't think I got out of bed for three days; I was just eating it up. My favourite storyline was the one between Deanna and Eddie Bondo. It was one of the hottest love stories I've ever read."

Thanks for your visit! xa

Alaine said...
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