Zooillogix

A research team led by Julian Finn of the Museum of Victoria in Melbourne has discovered octopuses using coconut shells as portable protection. Not only do they hide under single halves but will actually pull two halves together and hide inside, like some sort of Super Mario baddie. The video is remarkable.


Using tools means octopuses now join an elite club of wise animals including chimps, dolphins, and Tim Allen.

Thanks to Salem for sending this along.

Comments

  1. #1 American Delight
    December 14, 2009

    Cool? Yes. But I call shenanigans on this being called “tool use.” This isn’t much different from hiding under a rock. The octo-work appears less advanced than a bird making a nest.

    But if you showed me an octopus harvesting a coconut, then cracking it in half with an arrowhead it had crafted, then hiding in the shell, that would be tool use.

  2. #2 Kevin
    December 14, 2009

    Fascinating. I am not sure what constitutes tool use in the strict scientific sense, but the fact that they carry it srond with them is convincing. Which leads me to wonder why hermit crabs are not on the list – just ahead of Tim Allen.

  3. #3 Captain Skellett
    December 14, 2009

    It looks heaps proud of itself! I founds a coconut and iz carrying it arounds from nao on. k?

  4. #4 Jenbug
    December 15, 2009

    If you read the article in the Guardian it details specifically why this situation counts as tool use, and why hermit crabs do not.

    My faaaaaaavorite video that I can’t find is of the coconut octopus running along on the ocean floor, holding the coconuts up. Its running on two arms, looks like a little kid with long socks!

  5. #5 Dış Cephe
    December 16, 2009

    I agree Kevin.Thanks.

  6. #6 Zelly
    December 18, 2009

    Octopi are so groovy. At first I thought the coconut was kinda awkward and unwieldy to carry around, but then it takes off running :o

  7. #7 Lulu
    December 19, 2009

    Coco-Pus!

    Totally fun, and I love how the clever beastie gloms on to the camera in the end.

  8. #8 kathy Orlinsky
    December 20, 2009

    I loved the video, but I’m not convinced.

    The Guardian article says “What makes it different from a hermit crab is this octopus collects shells for later use, so when it’s transporting it, it’s not getting any protection from it,” Finn said. “It’s that collecting it to use it later that is unusual.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/15/coconut-shell-octopus-tool-use

    Fair enough, if that’s the criteria for tool use. But it seems kind of weak, just carrying something around with you. Then again, we are talking about a mollusc.

  9. #9 daedalus2u
    December 20, 2009

    What about nest building? Why isn’t that tool use? A nest certainly is tool-like.

  10. #10 Zelly
    December 20, 2009

    Reading through comments I agree with “tool” issue. While very intuitive, it does seem more of a simple enviromental prop than a tool with a specific purpose. If it were hunting or something maybe, but hiding…not so much

  11. #11 neuralstatic
    December 21, 2009

    planning and carrying for future use is much cooler than using a ‘tool’ for an immediate need — no? that has to bump some sentience up a notch

  12. #12 kathy Orlinsky
    December 22, 2009

    Yes, planning is definitely a sign of intelligence. The problem is, how do we know the octopus was actually planning anything? Maybe it just likes to carry around coconut shells. Then when it got tired, ‘hey, I’ve got a convenient home here! How crazy is that?’

    I do think the octopus probably did have a shelter in mind when it picked up the coconut, but I can’t really know that.

  13. #13 arachnophile
    December 23, 2009

    I for one welcome our Cephalopod Overlords. ;-p

    Come on… tool using aside this is just ONE more amazing thing that our octopod friends have shown us! I’ve worked with pacific reds (not nec. the valedictorians of the octopus world) and I’ve been blown away by their problem solving abilities. That is anecdotal obvy but… these will and will always be the most amazing and challenging of all invertebrates for me.

    Planning for an unforseen future – totally interesting!! Hopefully much more research will happen with our octopod friends and w/ primates!

  14. #14 julia goolia
    January 3, 2010

    Wait. I don’t get it. Are those giant coconuts [*giggle*] or mini octopi?

    I love how the little guy endlessly tries to hide from the camera man, then finally decides just to attack him instead. Great video!

  15. #15 Alex
    June 25, 2010

    VERY short video of coconut octopus running on two legs:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OByt5ISrzJs

    I second that description of it looking like a “little kid with long socks” :D

  16. #16 film izle
    August 17, 2010

    Come on… tool using aside this is just ONE more amazing thing that our octopod friends have shown us! I’ve worked with pacific reds (not nec. the valedictorians of the octopus world) and I’ve been blown away by their problem solving abilities. That is anecdotal obvy but… these will and will always be the most amazing and challenging of all invertebrates for me.

  17. #17 download videos
    December 14, 2010

    I do think the octopus probably did have a shelter in mind when it picked up the coconut, but I can’t really know that

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