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Old 12-15-2009, 08:07 AM   #1
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Default Tool-Using Octopi?

Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.
For the rest of the story, see Coconut-carrying octopus: Tool use in an invertebrate
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:58 PM   #2
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I heard about this on NPR just this morning. I think that cephalopods are much more intelligent than they have been given credit for. And it raises interesting questions about intentional manipulation of the landscape by animals other than humans. At what point does it depart from animal intelligence or instinct to become cultural? From a strictly philosophical standpoint, is it only humans that can impact the environment by manipulating it? I don't mean changes to the environment caused by feeding or reproducing or other behaviors that animals are naturally compelled to engage in, but alterations made intentionally to achieve an end, like beaver dams, or the creation and transportation of tools, as with our friend the octopus?
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Old 12-15-2009, 01:18 PM   #3
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Hanh mitakuyapi. Waaaay back when I was working my way thru university, there was a small octopus in an aquarium in the biology section of the Science Bldg. S/He used bits of shell & other things to pry things open when s/he couldn't open the whatsit with its suction-cup tentacles. We had a lot of fun putting bits of branches & other stuff in with it & seeing what it would do with them. Way better than tv would ever be. There always seems to be a downside to this kind of "learning curve increasing" though.. Ol' 8-arms figured out how to get the lid off the aquarium & took to getting out real often (ie, more than once a day) - until we theoretically-superior humans figured out how to bungee-cord the lid so 8-arms couldn't get out.. But it was nip n tuck there for awhile. (Who will prove smarter? The college students of the "ultimate life form", or the "simple" octopus?) Would put all those crappy "survivor" shows to shame! And did you know? Even a staid female biology professor can learn to hit the A above middle C (shriek!) if sufficient motivated by an octopus slithering up her leg while she's grading papers at her desk.... I majored in chemistry, & we heard her down there!

The next thing the octopus learned was to hide when it felt the thunder of gadjillion feet coming to find out what caused the hysteria.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:05 PM   #5
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Judging from the number of stories and videos, a lot of people have underestimated the octopus.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:29 PM   #6
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Well, I didn't stick around to find out how the shark v. octopus video ended; I clicked on the "stop" button the moment the narrator said "...as it turned out, they were tragically mistaken."

I think that octopi are beautiful, too. The way that they change color is stunning to watch, and they are so fluidly graceful.
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:48 PM   #7
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***Ending Spoiler***
The octopus had a late night shark snack.
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:00 PM   #8
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Oh thank you, Lorax! Now I can watch the video (I think--is it gruesome?).
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:08 PM   #9
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Not at all.
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:53 AM   #10
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That was very cool. Thanks to Staff and TheLorax!
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