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:11/17/2016)... CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2016  AIC announces that it ... about using NVMe storage servers in organizations that require high-performance scale-out plus high speed data transfer ... ... ... Setting ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE MKT: ... on the gut microbiome, today announced the pricing ... of its common stock and warrants to purchase ... price to the public of $1.00 per share ... from the offering, excluding the proceeds, if any ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... SARASOTA, Fla., Nov. 14, 2016  xG Technology, Inc. ... in providing critical wireless communications for use in challenging ... ended September 30, 2016. Management will hold a conference ... at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (details below). ... announced a $16 million binding agreement to acquire Vislink ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... Spain , Dec. 8, 2016  Anaconda BioMed ... the development of the next generation neuro-thrombectomy system for ... appointment of Tudor G. Jovin, MD to join its ... serve as a strategic network of scientific and clinical ... the development of the ANCD BRAIN ® to ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... ... launch of flexible packaging for their exceptionally efficient human mesenchymal stem/stromal cell ... RoosterBio’s portfolio of bioprocess media products engineered to radically streamline culture processes, ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , ... December 08, 2016 , ... This CAST literature ... for biotech crops. The authors focus on the economic effects in countries that are ... of new biotech crops and the resultant risk of low level presence (LLP) puts ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016 Soligenix, Inc. ... company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat ... announced today that it will be hosting an Investor ... ET on the origins of innate defense regulators (IDRs) ... review of oral mucositis and the recently announced and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: