by Katie the lowly intern
Just when you started to feel comforted by the surge of popular culture embracing cephalopods on TV, apparel and porn, scientists spoon out a dose of brutal reality. Researchers from University of Melbourne, University of Brussels and Museum Victoria have revealed another terrifying fact about octopuses. It’s not enough that they can squirt ink, have beaks, move by jet propulsion, change colors in seconds, turn their eyes to keep their pupils horizontally oriented, have no bones and most horrifically: have eight arms… but give very few hugs*.
The original octo-mom.
Dr. Brian “Frightening” Fry, from U. of Melbourne, and his fellow octologists found that genes obtained from tissue samples showed that someone somewhere early in the evolution of cephlopods produced a venom protein. With each new generation, more proteins were added until now- as Dr. Fry puts it rather bombastically- they “have assembled their arsenals” of toxins.
Meaning that while the blue-ringed octopus is known to be extremely poisonous to humans, causing paralysis and respiratory arrest, it turns out many many more species are venomous. Just not so much to humans. Or maybe its like the daddy-long legs which has “the most powerful venom in the world, but just can’t pierce human skin” which I learned on good authority from the kid down the block. Whatever the case, other creatures, like clams and crabs, aren’t so lucky. The venom quietly shuts down their nervous system so the octopus can leisurely peck out their insides.
Big banks are not the only thing with toxic assets.
The team of researchers claim, of course, that this could lead to advancements in the treatment of cancer. It could also lead to the advancement of my nightmares.
* video of an actual octopus hug: