The 8th day in October is the perfect day to honor this 8-armed cephalopod (Greek for “head-footed”). There are many reasons we should celebrate octopuses:
1) They’re super smart! Believed to be the smartest invertebrate, the octopus is an amazing problem solver, actively learning rather than just using instincts. An octopus has a total of 500 million neurons, located its brain and throughout its eight arms.
2) They’re ancient! Cephalopods have been around for millions and millions of years. The earliest octopus fossil record during the late Devonian (over 360 million year ago). That’s before dinosaurs! Their fossils are hard to find because they lack hard tissues that usually preserve better.
3) They’re great swimmers! They can propel forward by expelling water through their mantles (the muscled structure holding its organs). This allows some species to reach underwater speeds of nearly 25 mph (40 kph)!
4) They’re beautiful! Octopuses are found in an assortment of lovely and bold colors. They’re even able to change their outer appearance. Pigmented skin cells called chromatophores allow them to blend into their natural surroundings and protect them from predators.
5) They’re flexible! Since they have no external shell or internal skeletons, they can contort their body to fit into small spaces. The eyes are the most solid and as a result, many octopuses can pass through tights areas slightly larger than their eyes.
6) They’re clever! Some have been caught on video using tools (pieces of coconuts and shells) to help transport them and as shelter.
7) They’re eyes are neat! The octopus is able to see the same image whether right side up or flipped. Their pupils are horizontal, the same orientation as a goat’s. When the octopus moves, the eyes are able to stay in the same position, thus keeping it’s gaze from turning upside down.
8) They’re psychic! Ok, this is a bit of a stretch. But do you remember the famous cephalopod, Paul? Back in 2010 he correctly predicted all of Germany’s soccer results by choosing his daily snack of tasty mussels from one of two containers (one baring a German flag, the other the opponent’s flag).