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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Octopuses Capable of Hand-Eye Coordination

By Helen Albert,
May 30, 2011

LONDON: Octopuses are able to use visual cues to guide a single arm to a location, a complex movement that was not thought possible due to their lack of a rigid body structure, say researchers.

The octopus' arm is made up primarily of muscle with no skeletal support, so octopuses were previously believed to have a low level of body awareness and only limited control over their limbs. However, this study has shown for the first time that they can direct a single arm in a complex movement to a target location.

"Octopuses have a central nervous system that is advanced for an invertebrate, but simple compared to a vertebrate, yet it is capable of controlling a much more 'difficult' arm," said lead study author Tamar Gutnick, a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.

"Because of the unique body plan of the octopus its ability to control a single arm in a complex movement is quite amazing."

Too soft for complex movement?

Octopuses were thought to have no conscious central nervous system-directed (CNS) control over their arms with movement being controlled solely by the activity in the complex array of nerves (PNS) present in the limbs.

However, the visual aspect of the task carried out by the octopuses in this study suggests that there must be an exchange of information between the CNS and the PNS during such behaviours.

Photo by Tamar Gutnick

In Gutnick and colleagues' experiment, six out of seven octopuses succeeded in using a single arm to select a visually marked compartment containing a food reward in a three-choice, plexiglass maze.

The animals were required to reach the compartment containing the food reward at least five times in a row out of a total number of trials ranging from 61 to 211. The octopuses could only use one arm to complete the task, as the tube leading to each compartment was only wide enough for one limb.

How brains control behaviour

The team observed that the chance of a successful trial improved significantly during the last 20 trials for each animal compared with the preceding trials.

They also noted that the animals seemed to learn that they needed to see the three boxes to improve their chances of getting the reward and were significantly more likely to be in view of the boxes during the last 20 trials than during the earlier tests.

The octopuses also adapted their arm use strategy from mostly 'straight', involving a direct unrolling or pushing upwards of the arm through the tube, to a 'search' strategy, involving probing and crawling in the central tube and above the choice boxes before deciding on a compartment.

Photo by Michael Kuba

It's not automatic

"This is a very important step in our knowledge of octopus behaviour," commented Jennifer Mather, a professor of psychology and expert on octopus behaviour at Lethbridge University in Alberta, Canada.

"The octopus has a large number of complex arms, and the question of how they manage to guide all of them is a fascinating one. We had previously thought that it might be fairly automatic or that their control was more at the local level within the arm. This is good evidence that local control need not be all," she added.

Studies involving octopus motor control, such as this, are the foundation of a current European Union research project to develop a robot octopus (Octopus Project). The aim of the project is to design and produce a soft-bodied robot that moves and squeezes through narrow spaces in a similar way to a biological octopus.

"Depending on the size of the robot its use could be from medicine (constructing new soft-bodied ultra flexible surgical tools) to big robots that could be used in search and rescue," said Gutnick, who is continuing her research on motor control.

"We are continuing to look at single arm tasks where animals are taught using a variety of senses, exploring the involvement of central and peripheral information," she said.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Octopus Chair by Maximo Riera

As both a lover of everything octopus and interior design, this piece really tickled my fancy! Truly a work of art, this is the throne I imagine the evil octopus overlord ruling his kingdom from...

Text from

Spanish artist maximo riera has designed 'octopus chair', a limited edition piece that is part of a larger collection entitled 'animal chairs'. The series consists of more than fifteen different works where the marriage between furniture and animal is the main component.

Choosing the chair based on its banality in our everyday lives, the series looks to bring life to the basic function of the object, making it more present while creating a stronger connection between the spectator, the chair and its environment.

Requiring a team of over thirty professionals and four different companies, the chair was produced using a CNC milling machine. mechanized sculpting tools then produced a series of forms cut from foam blocks. Each part was assembled, glued, sanded and painted by hand to create an object that transmits a dynamic sense of movement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Suckers! Frugal Kiwi's Needle-Felted Octopus

This beautiful specimen is a felt sculpture made by Frugal Kiwi. Thank you to Everything Octopus reader, Melanie McMinn for contributing this link. Melanie also did the fun and fabulous web design so be sure to let her know how much ya like it once you visit the Frugal Kiwi blog!

The pictures below are of a handmade needle-felt common octopus. To read more about the process of making this beauty and some cheeky reader comments, please visit

Any other Needle-felters out there? The Everything Octopus community would love to see your creations!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Video: Real Octomom Gives Birth to Little Octopods

May 13, 2011

Here's something you don't see every day: the birth of thousands of octopi, caught on film.

These tiny octopuses are the offspring of a Caribbean Octopus vulgaris acquired by the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco in January. Soon after the octopus moved into the aquarium, biologist Richard Ross writes on his blog at Advanced Aquarist, she surprised everyone by laying eggs. Three weeks later, those eggs hatched, turning the octopus' tank into a "snow globe" of baby octopi, or paralarvae.

Each hatchling is 0.04 inches (1 to 2 millimeters) long. After they were born, the aquarium fed the baby octopi even tinier brine shrimp and zooplankton. Unfortunately, Ross wrote, octopus paralarvae are difficult to keep alive in captivity, though many survived up to 26 days.

The tale has a sad end for mom, too. This species of octopus stops eating after she lays her thousands of eggs and then dies soon after they hatch. The mother O. vulgaris lived about two weeks after her larvae emerged, Ross told LiveScience.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Octopus Neckties

Nothing says "I'm all business" like an octopus necktie, right? For those who want a little fun with their formality, may I suggest a visit to seller, RokGear. This is the shop for octopus neckties for dads, grads, and cephalofiends alike! Check out the amazing selection of colorful octopus neckties

Octopus Bow Tie, $22

Boys Octopus Clip-on Tie, $22

Octopus Necktie, $28


New Design RokGear original hand drawn pencil to paper to print features several octopus in a paisley type design this design has some sweet detail very sharp and clean enlarge the pictures for a better look.
hand print silk screen using 100% toxic free lead free solvent free earth friendly water base ink, heat cured to last the life of the necktie.

More details at the shop site.

There's plenty of time to place your order for Father's Day and Graduation...or simply because octopus ties are awesome and you've got to have one!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Explores the Phenomenon of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

The internet sensation, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus made headlines again recently when a study was conducted to test the gullibility of kids who use the internet. A group of 7th graders was instructed to write essays on the Tree Octopus, yet failed to realize it was a hoax. The obvious conclusion? The internet is making kids more gullible.

However, the study failed to illuminate a number of facts and has been criticized for twisting some of the information presented. digs deeper with an comprehensive - and fun-to-read - article and video exploring the truth behind "the facts".

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Judge Rules Against Walla Walla Octopus Mural

This is a follow-up to a story that garnered media attention back in October. Read the original post, Octo-fuss in Walla Walla Continues and the March follow-up, Purple Octopus to Get Day in Court for the full scoop.


The Associated Press
Walla Walla, Washington

A judge has ruled in favor of the city of Walla Walla in a dispute over a purple octopus mural above a downtown toy store.

The Union-Bulletin reports the judge has rejected the store owner's claim that the city sign code is unconstitutional.

Inland Octopus toy store owner Bob Catsiff went to Walla Walla County Superior Court trying to save the giant purple octopus mural that was painted in September. He calls it art.

The city says it's a sign code violation, and the fine has been growing at $100 a day.


Information from: Walla Walla Union-Bulletin,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day from Everything Octopus!

Here are some interesting facts about mother octopuses (saying "octo-mom" is just out of the question for obvious reasons!):

The female octopus births about 200,000 eggs (depending on species) at a single time, the only time in her life when she will reproduce.

She carefully cares for these eggs during the incubation period, which generally lasts for one month (once again, this time period can vary depending on the species). She blows currents of water over them to keep them oxygenated and guards them from predators. During this time, she does not hunt and begins to weaken.

Occasionally, a female octopus will ingest some of her own eggs for sustenance.

Once the eggs hatch, the babies are on their own. The mother is left weakened from the constant care she has given her hatchlings, sacrificing her own needs for theirs.

Mother octopus leaves the lair in her weakened state and is unable to fend off predators.

Mother octopus guarding her brood.

Even in the octopus world, a mother's love know no boundaries! THANK YOU to all the moms out there who have given so much to raise us all. Now, if you want a good laugh about octopus mommy-hood, check out this hilarious post from The Oatmeal, This is Why an Octopus is More Awesome Than Your Mom.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Support the Japan Disaster Relief Efforts with Octopus Jewelry!

Hello fellow cephalophiles, sorry for the long break; my Mac Mini saw it's last day of octoblogging and it took a while to get back up-and-running. Now let's get to it... seller, Leviticus is supporting the Japan Disaster Relief efforts while beautifying the world with her bodacious jewelry. For a limited time, all items in the shop are on sale and 50% of the sale goes to the American Red Cross to support the Japan Disaster Relief.

Highly detailed squid tentacle wrap ring with a Czech crystal adorned suction cup. Available in Rhodium plated with black Czech crystal, 18k gold plated with black Czech crystal, black gold plated with a clear Czech crystal.

These rings are Leviticus original designs that are hand cast and plated.

Available in sizes: 6, 7, 8

Please mention your size as well as color preference during checkout.

****50% of ALL Leviticus Jewelry sales will be donated to the RED CROSS for the Japan Disaster Relief!****

Support a great cause and look good doing it! Happy shopping!