Six Wonders of Octopus Intelligence: From Outsmarting Humans to Throwing Punches

When it comes to the vast world of marine life, the intelligence of octopuses is truly a spectacle that stands out. Beyond their inky excretions and dexterous arms, their intricate cognitive skills invite awe and curiosity. Here are seven fascinating facts that highlight the astonishing aptitude of these cephalopods:

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1. Octopuses are among the most intellectually advanced species on Earth, demonstrating abilities to solve intricate puzzles, use tools, and even plan for the future. They are such cognitive marvels that in some jurisdictions, it’s required by law to administer anesthesia before any surgical procedure is performed on them.

2. The octopus brain is a decentralized marvel. They possess nine brains in total – a smaller one in each of their eight arms, and a central brain that regulates the whole system. These arm brains can independently taste, touch and perform rudimentary movements, yet, in the face of a larger task, they collaborate seamlessly under the directive of the central brain.

3. Researchers have documented instances of octopuses punching fish. While the motivations behind this surprising behavior remain a subject of speculation, it’s hypothesized that this may be a form of punishment. This fascinating behavior showcases the capacity of the octopus’s brain for complex cognition, despite its drastically different structure compared to human brains.

4. Meet Otto, another famously crafty octopus, notorious for causing a power outage at his aquarium. Agitated by a glaring 2000-watt spotlight, Otto figured out how to shoot water at the light, leading to a short circuit. Known for his antics, he was also caught juggling his tank mates, smashing glass with thrown rocks, and persistently aiming water jets at annoying light fixtures.

5. Showcasing a Houdini-like talent, Inky the Octopus made headlines with his great escape from New Zealand’s National Aquarium. Seizing the opportunity one night, he squeezed through a tiny hole in his tank, slid across the aquarium floor, and navigated his way through a drainpipe that led directly to the ocean – a grand escape indeed.

6. While octopuses are often solitary and show antisocial tendencies toward their own kind, an interesting experiment demonstrated a significant shift in behavior. When given MDMA, a psychoactive drug, these typically asocial creatures became notably more sociable, displaying what can only be described as “hugging” behavior towards each other.

Wild Mice and the Joy of Running Wheels

Studies have discovered that when a running wheel is left in nature, wild mice will willingly use it to run, seemingly for their own pleasure.

A recent study reveals that wild mice voluntarily run on exercise wheels in their natural environment without any food reward, similar to how captive mice behave. This finding contradicts the belief that such activity is a result of captivity or an indicator of neurosis or repetitive behavior associated with confinement. Over a period of three years, the study recorded more than 200,000 visits by various free-living animal species to the exercise wheels, proving its popularity among wild creatures.

Animal Instincts: The Drive to Earn Food vs. The Desire to be Served

Research has shown that a variety of animals such as rats, gerbils, mice, birds, fish, monkeys, and chimpanzees all prefer to work for their meals rather than receiving it freely. However, cats were the only exception found in the study, demonstrating a preference for being served their food instead.

Idle Nature: The Unexpected Downtime in Insect Communities

Surprisingly, a significant number of animals, including those we typically consider industrious, spend a considerable amount of their time seemingly idle. Observations of social insect communities, such as ants or bees, reveal that roughly less than half of the population are often stationary, appearing to do nothing.