The Octopus: An Alien Among Us

Octopuses have been inspirations for monsters throughout our history.

Ever heard the term “RELEASE THE KRAKEN!” The Kraken is a legendary sea monster of gigantic size and cephalopod-like appearance in Scandinavian folklore. Stories generally describe it as a terrifyingly enormous octopus creature that attacks a ship.

Although the stories of the Kraken has been told for ages, we are at least 100% sure that Octopuses are real. (even though, we should still just keep an eye out for the Kraken!)

Octopuses are fascinating sea animals with eight long tentacles for arms, rounded bodies, bulging eyes and a heck of a lot of weird gooeyness in between. They love warm tropical waters but can be found all throughout the oceans.

Octopuses are true aliens with respect to us. No other intelligent animal is as far from us on the tree of life. Octopuses are the superstars of the invertebrates because of their astonishing intelligence.

Let’s do a quick fact check:

Octopoda is the scientific name of the octopus.

There are over 250 species of octopus.

They have three hearts.

Female octopuses die after their eggs have hatched.

Octopuses mating may take up to several hours.

All octopuses have venom.

Some species of octopus can live down to the depths of more than 10,000 feet.

The octopus’s ink expulsion is their best defence against predators to hide from their sight.

They are also fast swimmers with a speed of 40 KM per hour.

Octopus are also popular in mythology much like the “Kraken.”

The plural form of octopus is octopuses or octopi.

Octopuses can regrow an arm if they lose one.

The oldest known octopus fossil belonged to an octopus that lived around 296 million years ago during the carboniferous period and is currently on display at the field museum in Chicago USA.

These animals evolved with not only eight tentacles but also three hearts. Two exclusively to move blood beyond the animals’ gills, and one to keep the circulation flowing between organs. This one actually stops beating when the octopus starts swimming which also brings a reasonable explanation of why they always opt to crawl rather than swim, exhaustion can really affect them.

They can also use tools, solve problems, and show unexpected creativity. In a now-classic demonstration, octopuses can learn to open a glass jar by unscrewing the top in order to get to a tasty morsel within. The octopus has a central brain and also an independent, smaller processor in each arm, giving it a unique mixture of centralized and distributed command.

Octopuses have decentralised brains and the majority of its neurons live in their arms. This means that the octopus gives the impression of having nine unique brains, as each tentacle or arm, has independent touch and taste and their own basic motions.

Watch below as Underwater photographer Justin Hofman was scuba diving off the coast of Alaska when he had this magical encounter with a giant Pacific octopus.

Octopuses can change their skin colours in the blink of an eye! The ‘chromatophores’, special cells of the octopus, are the reason behind their amazing transformation. These special cells beneath their skin have thousands of colours.

Need one more fact to prove that an octopus is really an alien amongst us? Well… their blood is a shade of blue!

When the octopus is in a cold environment with low oxygen levels, hemocyanin carries oxygen more efficiently than haemoglobin, a metalloprotein in the red blood cells that also transports oxygen. The hemocyanin is also dissolved in the plasma rather than being carried within blood cells making the octopus’ blood look bluish.

okay fine, science can explain that one… but still!

Thank you for reading… #TheSomethingGuy #SouthAfrica

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