Pharyngula

Friday Cephalopod: Legal precedent

By carrying that coconut, octopuses of this sort made a change in their legal status necessary.

The extent of octopus intelligence is debated, at least among vertebrates, but there is evidence of pretty complex behavior, including possible tool use. See, e.g., J.K. Finn, T. Tregenza, and M.D. Norman, “Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus,” 19 Current Biology 1069 (2009). The evidence was enough to convince the UK to grant protection to the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) in 1993, thus ironically granting it a certain elite status.

That discrimination ended in 2010, however, when the EU enacted a broader directive that let the other octopuses and even squid into the club:

In addition to vertebrate animals including cyclostomes, cephalopods should also be included in the scope of this Directive, as there is scientific evidence of their ability to experience pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm. [Therefore, t]his Directive shall apply to the following animals: (a) live non-human vertebrate animals [and] (b) live cephalopods.

They are calling it an “honorary vertebrate,” which sounds rather like a demotion to me. Can we instead declare people to be honorary cephalopods? Thank you, that would be awesome.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark
    Stoneville
    May 23, 2015

    There is more that unites us than divides us.

  2. #2 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    May 23, 2015

    We have over 7.2 billion people on the planet today and not one wise leader among us can be found with the foresight and requisite leadership skills to provide anticipatory guidance. Neither a Nero can be located fiddling in a tower nor a Napoleon waiting at Waterloo. We have named our species Homo sapiens sapiens, but where are “the wisest of the wise” among us? Will a wise leader please stand up! The potential leaders I see are running off in mad frenzy pursuing only one thing……money. Can ‘flying for the buck’ be the wisest thing to be doing in our time? Or have the wisest of the wise taken flight aboard private jets, heading in different directions with plans to ravage the Earth on one fool’s errand after another? All leading members of the last generation with the power to change course, to do something that makes a difference with regard to climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and extreme poverty.

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