Pharyngula

Friday Cephalopod: Look up!

i-71496b3581e50b019d3b59d2ba47074a-octopus_cyanea.jpeg
Octopus cyanea

Figure from Cephalopods: A World Guide (amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), by Mark Norman.

Comments

  1. #1 Kate
    February 20, 2009

    Beautiful. I love the Friday Cephalopod more than I love the snark and the puns, if that’s at all possible.

    I’ve always wondered how an octopus feels when you touch it. I imagine something akin to the feel of wet neoprene… but I’m probably way off base. Anyone have experience in the matter and care to share?

  2. #2 Thanny
    February 20, 2009

    I’m sure the octopus feels violated when you touch it. What did you imagine, gratitude?

  3. #3 Podblack
    February 20, 2009

    Cuttlefish are absolutely cuddly and nice to hold their hand on a NY street, especially if they’re Digital.

    Oh, you mean *real* ones!

    Well, I had the experience of meeting an octopus and a (real) cuttlefish in a petting pond at the AQUA center here in Australia – and they’re both quite smooth. Almost as if they have a gelatin skin, but a bit firmer. Not rubbery. My hand sort of slid along it. They’re quite inquisitive and don’t mind being stroked. :)

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    February 20, 2009

    They feel…velvety. Wet, slick, very soft and smooth, but kind of muscular, too. They actually feel very sexy.

  5. #5 jemand
    February 20, 2009

    how do Cephalopods manage to keep their brains safe in such a squishable, streachable, body plan? I’ve been wondering this for awhile, they appear to be able to smash themselves into a tiny tube as part of solving a puzzle that would take a bit of intelligence to undo, and yet even while squashed free tentacles can be working on the next part of the puzzle! And yet my brain is hidden away inside the equivalent of a metal safe and would be totally destroyed by similar compression.

    How do they do it?

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    February 20, 2009

    Their brains are very small, and distributed into multiple ganglia. They also don’t have a high pressure vascular system, which helps.

  7. #7 Kate
    February 20, 2009

    Wow, PZ… that *does* sound kinda sexy. (Hmmm, I think I’ve been hanging out here a little too much, or not enough. I’m not sure which!)

    Thanks for the insight! :)

  8. #8 RM
    February 20, 2009

    He looks like he belongs at a disco.

  9. #9 Boudicca
    February 20, 2009

    Why am I hearing Barry White and smelling patchouli . . . ?

  10. #10 Evolving Squid
    February 20, 2009

    I’ve never touched a cephalopod, but I used to keep a marine aquarium, and I had a pink tipped anemone that used to like to crawl onto my hand (they can move, sort of like a snail). I’m guessing it was attracted to the heat, or maybe it’s some weird cnidarian thing.

  11. #11 scubachick
    February 20, 2009

    When I used to work for the Seattle Aquarium (2-3 years ago) they frequently had Giant Pacific Octopuses in holding as well as the one(s) on display, and we used to be allowed to go back and play with them. Apparently in recent years people were careless and too many octos were escaping, so no more playing with them, but it was cool while it lasted. They look so squishy, so I was completely surprised to feel rock-solid muscles, almost like cables under the soft, velvet skin. Also surprising was the strength in the suckers. The first time one latched on, I almost thought it was bite or something, it was so firm. Anything that has that kind of strength at about 15 pounds, and can potentially grow over 400 has my respect!

  12. #12 eddie
    February 20, 2009
  13. #13 recovering catholic
    February 20, 2009

    Those frilly eyes would look mighty tasty to me if I were a fish–but it seems pretty risky to use your most important sensory organs to attract prey…

  14. #14 eddie
    February 20, 2009
  15. #15 recovering catholic
    February 20, 2009

    Eddie–

    I don’t understand Japanese–what is this cepahlopod made of? I like the preceding shot of a huge cylinder of chopsticks, just awaiting hungry fingers…

  16. #16 eddie
    February 20, 2009

    OT but you’ll love this. I like to follow the related-videos links on youtube.

  17. #17 recovering catholic
    February 20, 2009

    Oh wait, I think that cephalopod is MADE of chopsticks…

  18. #18 Paulino
    February 20, 2009

    Here’s a nice cephalopod video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_AZyrH_0z8

    Looks like a Taningia danae (Octopoteuthidae) since it lacks tentacles. The squid has attacked the lights of a ROV from the Brazilian oil company on its way back up.

    Quoting PZ:
    “Their brains are very small, and distributed into multiple ganglia.”

    Not quite, the ganglia are very concentrated forming a single mass, and it’s partially protected by a cartilaginous capsule.

    Those interest may check this article it has a good decription of the octopus brain and how it compares with the vertebrate brain:
    http://www.biolbull.org/cgi/reprint/210/3/308

  19. #19 GeoffR
    February 20, 2009

    I wonder if Cephalopods ever look at pictures of themselves and think “Damn,I thought I looked better than that!”.

  20. #20 Sherry
    February 20, 2009

    On my last few dive trips in Hawaii, I’ve been THE Octopus spotter. I don’t know why, apparently just looking in the right direction at the right time– when a small movement caught my eye I guess. In any case, what a thrill!

  21. #21 LC
    February 20, 2009

    I just got a new computer, large monitor and DSL – and had no idea these cephalopods I’ve been seeing ever since I discovered your blog could be so ugly. Yes, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    It’s a good thing I’m too old to get nightmares.