Monday, August 24, 2015

The Weirdest Animals on Earth: 12 Amazing Facts About Octopuses

Photo of a day octopus by
Ahmed Abdul Rahman available
at Wikimedia Commons.
1. The plural of octopus is octopuses. How an English word is pluralized depends, in part, on its origins. Latin words that end in –us are generally pluralized by replacing the –us with an –i (the plural of alumnus, for example, is alumni). But octopus is not Latin – It comes from the ancient Greek word októpous, whose plural is októpodes. Although octopodes is technically correct, since it has been adopted into the English language, the word is now pluralized in the English way, making it octopuses. So octopi is commonly used but not technically correct, octopodes is technically correct but not commonly used and octopussies is just plain wrong.

2. Octopuses are mollusks. This means that they are not only closely related to squid and cuttlefish, but also to clams, oysters, snails and slugs.

3. Octopuses are crazy-smart. They can solve problems, learn from watching others, use tools, and remember experiences. They even have personalities and play with toys. Check this out:

4. Octopuses have nine brains! Rather than a large centralized brain like ours, octopus brains are more like the internet. Their main CPU is a fairly small brain in their head, but each of their eight arms has an additional brain of its own. In fact, two-thirds of an octopus’ neurons are in the arms, which can independently attach to things, push things, and even smell things. They can even react after they have been severed! Not only that, but their severed arms recognize their previous owner:

5. If an octopus loses an arm, it can grow back. Those crazy arms are like the brooms in Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice in Fantasia!

6. Octopuses are amazing camouflage artists. Their soft bodies can squeeze into ridiculously small cracks and crevices and take on any number of shapes. A 50-pound octopus, for example, can squeeze through a 2-inch hole! They can also change the color and texture of their skin to match their background.

The mimic octopus, the ultimate master of disguise, doesn’t just imitate their background, but also flounders, starfish, poisonous lionfish, and sea snakes.

A vertebrate eye (left) versus an octopus eye (right).
1: Retina, 2: Nerve fibers, 3: Optic nerve, 4: Blind spot.
Image by Jerry Crimson Mann at Wikimedia.
7. Octopuses don’t have visual blind-spots. Most animal eyes detect light patterns when light travels to the retina (the layer in the back of the eye) and falls on photoreceptor cells, causing the cells to send electrical signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Vertebrate photoreceptor cells face backwards, so their nerve fibers come in front of the retina and then exit the eye together through the optic nerve, creating a small region in the back of the eye with no photoreceptor cells. If light falls on this spot, we literally will not see it, although our brain will compensate for this missing light by imagining what should be there based on the rest of what we see. We call this our blind spot. You can test your blind spot by closing your left eye and focusing your right eye on the “R” below. Move your face towards or away from the screen until the “L” disappears. You can test your left eye by staring at the “L” in the same way.
In octopus eyes, the photoreceptor cells face forwards and the nerve fibers go behind the retina. This means that they have a continuous layer of photoreceptor cells and no blind spot.

8. Octopuses are more blue blooded than police officers. Their blood is truly blue, due to the fact that they don’t have hemoglobin, our respiratory pigment that contains iron and turns red when it binds to oxygen. Rather, they have hemocyanin, which contains copper and turns blue when oxygen binds to it.

9. Octopuses have three hearts! They have two small hearts that each pump blood through the gills and a main systemic heart that collects the blood and pumps it through the circulatory system.

10. Octopus ink is a defensive chemical concoction. It not only obscures the view of an attacker, but it also contains a chemical that irritates the predator’s eyes and temporarily paralyzes its sense of smell.

11. Octopuses bite with a bird-like beak and venomous saliva, which is mostly used to subdue prey. Of the approximately 300 octopus species, only the small blue-ringed octopus is known to be deadly to humans.

12. Octopuses die after they mate for the first time. And they mate in an odd way too: males use the tip of their third arm on the right to either insert their spermatophores (sperm packets) directly into the female’s tubular breathing funnel or he just hands it to her (The tip of the third right arm can be used to tell if an octopus is male or female). If he hands it to her, she accepts it with one of her right arms (we don’t know why they’re right-handed this way). Then the males go off to die. The females eventually lay up to 400,000 fertilized eggs, although they can wait months before they do this. She tends them and guards them at the exclusion of all else until they hatch, at which point her body rapidly deteriorates as her cells die off.


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  2. Woo these facts are amazing..
    Really liked it, keep on sharing these kinds of facts.