Scientists Solve Nagging Octopus Question
Here's why the creatures don't get tangled
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted May 18, 2014 6:00 AM CDT
Scientists have learned why octopuses don't get tangled up.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you had eight arms, how would you avoid tripping and tangling yourself up—especially if the arms were covered in suckers? Somehow, octopuses manage, but scientists didn't know how. New research indicates, however, that the suckers on the arms are able to identify other arms and avoid sticking to them, National Geographic reports. "Two-thirds of (an octopus') nerves are not in its brain, but in its arms," a researcher says. In other words, as NPR puts it, "It's kind of like the eight arms have minds of their own."

And they continue to function for about an hour even after being severed from an octopus' body, as can happen in the wild. Researchers found that amputated arms didn't stick to themselves or other arms—unless the other arms' skin was removed. In a petri dish half-covered in octopus skin, amputated arms attached only to the part of the dish without the skin covering. The arms have sensors that allow them to "taste" what they touch, and this taste appears to tell them not to stick to other arms, says a researcher. "This is a sensory capability previously unknown in octopus or any other cephalopod," an expert tells NPR. (In other sea creature news, researchers recently named a stunning—and mysterious—new species of jellyfish.)

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Scientists Solve Nagging Octopus Question is...
3%
74%
1%
19%
1%
3%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 18 comments
SPHeroid
May 18, 2014 9:26 PM CDT
This should come as no surprise.... Most people are aware that they have a nerve system.... But most are not cognizant they have at least six such systems... First, of course, is the CNS...Your brain and spinal cord... Second is the nerves that you use to command your muscles... Interestingly all this is LEARNED after birth... Third are nerves that report pain...And oddly tickling... Fourth is the system that reports warm and cold..... Five is a system that coneys information about body parts position.... Close your eye and touch your nose.... Again this is LEARNED after birth... And sixth is the obvious system that responds to pressure... Touch.. Most prominent in lips and fingertips, but hugely useful....
iq145
May 18, 2014 1:35 PM CDT
With all those mini brains, people shouldn't be surprized that they made the list: The list. Out of the millions of animal species in history... Top 12 Smartest Animals ever on Earth: 12. Portia Labiata Jumping Spider 11. Raccoon 10. Rats 9. Ravens & Crows 8. Dogs (namely, The Border Collie) & Cats (namely, The American Shorthair) 7. Rhesus Macaque Monkey 6. North Pacific Giant Octopus 5. African Grey Parrot 4. Elephants 3. Capuchin Monkey 2. Dolphins (namely, Bottlenose) & Whales 1. Apes (namely, Chimpanzee and Gorilla... oh, and i guess, those pesky old humans too).
JoeQ
May 18, 2014 10:23 AM CDT
Each tentacle agrees not to stick to the other; sort of a squid pro quo.