Navigation Links
Tool use in an invertebrate: The coconut-carrying octopus
Date:12/14/2009

Scientists once thought of tool use as a defining feature of humans. That's until examples of tool use came in from other primates, along with birds and an array of other mammals. Now, a report in the December 14th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, adds an octopus to the growing list of tool users.

The veined octopus under study manages a behavioral trick that the researchers call stilt walking. In it, the soft-bodied octopus spreads itself over stacked, upright coconut shell "bowls," makes its eight arms rigid, and raises the whole assembly to amble on eight "stilts" across the seafloor. The only benefit to the octopus's ungainly maneuver is to use the shells later as a shelter or lair, and that's what makes it wholly different from a hermit crab using the discarded shell of a snail.

"There is a fundamental difference between picking up a nearby object and putting it over your head as protection versus collecting, arranging, transporting (awkwardly), and assembling portable armor as required," said Mark Norman of the Museum Victoria in Australia.

Julian Finn, also of the Museum Victoria, said the initial discovery was completely serendipitous.

"While I have observed and videoed octopuses hiding in shells many times, I never expected to find an octopus that stacks multiple coconut shells and jogs across the seafloor carrying them," he said.

In recalling the first time that he saw this behavior, Finn added, "I could tell that the octopus, busy manipulating coconut shells, was up to something, but I never expected it would pick up the stacked shells and run away. It was an extremely comical sightI have never laughed so hard underwater."

After 500 diver hours spent "under the sea," the researchers observed the behavior of 20 veined octopuses. On four occasions, individuals traveled over considerable distancesup to 20 meterswhile carrying stacked coconut shell halves beneath their body.

"Ultimately, the collection and use of objects by animals is likely to form a continuum stretching from insects to primates, with the definition of tools providing a perpetual opportunity for debate," the researchers concluded. "However, the discovery of this octopus tiptoeing across the sea floor with its prized coconut shells suggests that even marine invertebrates engage in behaviors that we once thought the preserve of humans."


'/>"/>

Contact: Cathleen Genova
cgenova@cell.com
617-397-2802
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Tentacles of venom: New study reveals all octopuses are venomous
2. Cretaceous octopus with ink and suckers -- the worlds least likely fossils?
3. Queens University Belfast researchers trace octopuses family tree
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/30/2017)... Va. , June 30, 2017 ... leading developer and supplier of face and eye ... ATA Featured Product provider program. ... an innovative way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness ... greatly from being able to detect fatigue and ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... 16, 2017   Bridge Patient Portal , ... MD EMR Systems , an electronic medical ... GE, have established a partnership to build an ... the GE Centricity™ products, including Centricity Practice Solution ... These new integrations will allow healthcare delivery ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K ... Commission. ... 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s ... the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... , ... August 15, 2017 , ... Any expert in ... has compromised these disciplines for more than half a century. Despite their essential ... It is widely known that molecular tags developed for this purpose also tag ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... August 15, 2017 , ... ... for the first time on Immuno-Oncology 360° (IO360°) programming through a series of upcoming ... to be held February 7-9, 2018, at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... JULABO USA introduces ... the new website makes it easy to navigate through the site whether you’re ... find detailed product information, educational industry content and visit the company’s social media ...
(Date:8/14/2017)... ... August 14, 2017 , ... ... interconnect using USB or PCI Express, announced the release of SYZYGY™, a new ... to satisfy the need for a compact, low cost, low pin-count, high-performance connectivity ...
Breaking Biology Technology: