Octopuses, those sassy but strange cephalopods, seem to encapsulate everything spooky and enigmatic about the sea–the idea of their soft, squishy bodies lurking in the deepest recesses of the ocean has inspired monsters ranging from the Kraken to the Caribbean Lusca.
Their unearthly appearances, enhanced by unfurling arms, also appear in more modern monsters and villains, such as Disney’s Ursula and Spider-Doc Man’s Oc. Not to mention the octopus-themed horror films!
Octopus, there’s a new book! Katherine Harmon Courage’s The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea is available today. Harmon Courage delves into everything octopus, from its culinary application in recipes all throughout the world to their terrible sex life. We’ve highlighted a few of the book’s most noteworthy points below.
1) Octopuses have been around for a long time. The oldest known octopus fossil dates back to the Carboniferous period, approximately 296 million years ago. The specimen is from the Pohlsepia species and is on display in Chicago’s Field Museum. It’s described as a “flattened cow patty” or a “globular splat” by Harmon Courage, but a closer look exposes the eight arms and two eyes.
Researchers aren’t sure, but there could be an ink bag as well. In other words, octopuses had already defined their shape for millions of years before life on land developed beyond tiny pre-dinosaur reptiles.
2) Octopuses have three different kinds of hearts. Two of the hearts are dedicated to moving blood beyond the animal’s gills, while the third keeps the organs circulating. When the octopus swims, the organ heart actually stops beating, explaining why the species prefers to crawl rather than swim, which exhausts them.
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3) Octopuses is the plural form of octopus. The term “octopus” is derived from the Greek word októpus, which means “eight foot.” Because of the word’s Greek roots, it can also be pluralized as a Greek word, which is determined by the gender of the noun and the last letter it ends with. An -es is simply added in this situation. Harmon Courage points out that there are no octopi, octopodes, or octopussies.
4) Aristotle thought octopuses were deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly de “The octopus is a stupid creature, for it will approach a man’s hand if it is lowered in the water,” the Greek philosopher wrote in his History of Animals, “but it is neat and thrifty in its habits: that is, it lays up stores in its nest, and, after eating up all that is eatable, it ejects the shells and sheaths of crabs and shell-fish and the skeletons of little fishes.
” He finishes off, “So much for the Mollusca,” after outlining a few more oddities of octopus life history–it ejects ink for self-defense, it’s slimy, it can crawl on land. The big-brained cephalopod, on the other hand, can negotiate mazes, solve problems and recall solutions, and disassemble objects for amusement–they even have different personalities.
5) Octopus arms have their own thoughts. The limbs, not the head, house two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons. As a result, the arms can tackle problems like opening a clam while their owners are busy doing something else, like exploring a cave for other tasty treats. Even after they’ve been totally severed, the arms can react. When researchers pinched severed arms in one experiment, they jerked away in pain.
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6) Octopus ink does more than only conceal the animal. Enemies are also physically harmed by the ink. It contains a substance called tyrosinase, which aids in the management of the natural pigment melanin formation in humans. Tyrosinase, on the other hand, creates blinding irritation when sprayed in a predator’s eyes. It also muddles the senses of smell and taste in organisms. Octopuses who do not escape their own ink cloud can perish as a result of the protective concoction.
7) Octopuses have blood that is blue in color. Octopuses evolved copper-based blood called hemocyanin, which colors their blood blue, to survive in the deep ocean. When the water temperature is very low and there isn’t much oxygen around, this copper base is more efficient at carrying oxygen than hemoglobin. However, because of this system, they are particularly sensitive to variations in acidity. Octopuses can’t circulate enough oxygen if the pH of the surrounding water becomes too low. As a result, scientists are concerned about the effects of climate change-induced ocean acidification on species.
8) Some people consider octopuses to be erotic muses. The origins of Japan’s famed “tentacle erotica” can be traced back to an 1814 woodblock print named Tako to Ama, or “Octopus and the Shell Diver” (possibly NSFW). The painting is based on folklore about a female shell diver who is hunted by sea monsters, including octopuses, after catching the eye of a sea dragon god, according to Courage.
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9) For octopuses, it’s game over once they’ve mated. Octopuses only live for a short time after mating and having children, and they die soon after. External fertilization is used by this species. Several men either directly place their spermatophores into a tubular funnel that the female uses to breathe or offer her the sperm, which she always accepts with one of her right arms (researchers do not know why).
Following that, males walk off to die. Females have the ability to lay up to 400,000 eggs, which they meticulously guard and care for. Females cease eating to focus on their motherly responsibilities. But instead of starving to death, the female’s body turns on her after the eggs hatch. Her body goes through a series of cellular suicides, beginning with the ocular glands and spreading outward through her tissues and organs until she dies.
10) The majority of octopus consumed by humans comes from North and West Africa. For ages, the octopus has been a favorite food item in East Asia, Spain, Greece, and other nations, and it has recently gained popularity in the United States and elsewhere. Koreans consume the most octopus nowadays. However, the popularity of octopus has had an influence on octopus populations in oceans all over the world. Octopus catches in Japan, for example, fell by half between the 1960s and the 1980s.
International demand for octopus prompted North and West African fisheries to begin targeting the animals in the 1980s, albeit the demand has recently shifted fishing from Morocco to Mauritania and, more recently, Senegal. Each year, over 270,000 tonnes of octopus are imported by various countries throughout the world, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.