Monday, February 8, 2016

8 Great Octopus Facts!

I volunteered at the National Zoo's Invertebrate House for several years, and one of the most fascinating animals was the octopus.  These creatures are smart, curious, and as you can see from the above video, can be fond of people!  The book The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery does a great job of describing what it's like to work with an octopus.  Here are 8 great octopus facts about the more than 200 species of octopus:

  1. An octopus has special cells in its skin that allow it to change color
  2. An octopus has chemoreceptors on its arms and suckers -- it can "smell" in the water!
  3. The only hard part of an octopus' body is its beak
  4. An octopus can squeeze through VERY tiny spaces -- the space only has to be as big as the octopus' beak!
  5. You can tell a male octopus from a female octopus by looking at the end of the arms -- the males lack suckers on the end of one of the arms
  6. An octopus can release ink to confuse predators and prey, but this ink also stings predator's eyes and causes their senses to become less acute
  7. An octopus has three hearts
  8. The plural of octopus is.....wait for it........octopuses! (photo:  D.Di Mauro)
Montgomery, S.  2015. The Soul of an Octopus.  A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness.  Atria Books;  New York NY. 

Smithsonian Institution.  Ten Curious Facts About Octopuses.

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