Octopuses (that’s the preferred plural according to Wikipedia and several other sources) are among the world’s most fascinating animals. Intensely curious and undoubtedly intelligent, these super-cephalopods are alien enough to give the most creative science fiction author a run for his or her money. Speaking of science fiction, the octopus has inspired its share of creepy creatures. H.P. Lovecraft despised seafood, and used the octopus as the basis of his best-known creation: Cthulhu. The elder god’s head appears to be an octopus in its entirety. 1955 b-movie It Came From Beneath the Sea featured a giant octopus attacking San Francisco. All of their fantastic fictional brethren aside, the real octopus is an amazing creature. Here are 15 facts about this ocean-going alien.
1. Don’t bother getting up, I’ll serve myself. Octopuses are infamous escape escape artists. Captive octopuses have been known to climb out of their tanks and slip into a neighboring tank to eat fish and then climb back into home tank with no one the wiser.
2. Need a hand with that lid? Octopuses can and will unscrew jar lids to get to tasty treats. Just another indicator of their awesome intelligence.
3. Today: coconut husks. Tomorrow: the world. Only a scant few animals use tools: the great apes, a few species of birds, and octopuses. Researchers observed wild octopuses utilizing coconut husks as makeshift shelters.
4. I don’t like the looks of you. Octopuses hold grudges. Captive octopuses remember faces and have been known to blast researchers they don’t like in the face with ink.
5. Lights out! One particularly annoyed octopus, Otto, kept using his powerful water jet to shoot out the lights above his tank. Researchers didn’t know why the power kept shorting out overnight until they spent the night sleeping at the aquarium.
6. Let’s play. Aquarium keepers have to provide octopuses with plenty of toys, otherwise they’ll wreak havoc by juggling their tankmates and tossing rocks.
7. Smart all over. Researchers have trouble estimating the true intelligence of the octopus because of how unusual their nervous systems are. The “brain” of an octopus is distributed throughout its body, and if an arm is severed it will operate independently for some time.
8. I think, therefore I am…octopus. Some scientists think that octopuses are self-aware, but due to their unique neurological structure it remains a point of contention. Still, this could put the octopus among rare company: that of humans and other apes, elephants and dolphins.
9. You don’t see me. An octopus will use its boneless physique and color-changing ability to mimic their surroundings, disguising themselves as rocks, vegetation and more. An octopus can also squeeze through a hole as big as their eye.
10. What are you doing here? The natural curiosity of the octopus can be a nuisance for divers. The creatures have been known to try to take off divers’ masks and even steal cameras.
11. Let’s take a stroll. Octopuses can survive on land for quite some time, provided that their gills and skin can stay most. This enables them to crawl between tidal pools in search of food.
12. Aargh! Giant octopuses have been known to board fishing vessels to steal their favorite prey: crabs.
13. Three hearts that beat as one. Octopuses have three hearts. The octopus is the Doctor Who of the animal world.
14. Watch that bite. All octopuses have venomous bites, but only the venom of the blue-ring octopus is capable of killing a human being.
15. A love to die for. Sadly, an octopus only lives a short while after mating.