The Octopus: Smart, Dumb, Other?

I've been pretty quiet on the blog while I've been off visiting grandparents in other states this past week. But in the meantime, Slate has published a piece I wrote for them on the beguiling mystery of octopus brains. I wonder if this guy would find it enlightening.

Update: A couple readers pointed out to me that I should have said octopuses jet water, not air. Sorry for the slip--it should be fixed shortly.

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While I have no problem with a condemnation of the tradition of throwing dead octopuses on the ice at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit -- including the fact that the team even encourages the tradition by lowering a gigantic octopus mascot from the ceiling -- I think it is a tad unfair to single out only the man in the picture (Al Sobotka) who is, after all, the guy tasked with cleaning up said mollusks, not the person who actually threw them in the first place.

I have read articles in the past about people buying the octopuses at local fish markets near the arena (in Detroit's Greektown neighborhood), but I have not seen anything that discussed whether there is any significant ecological impact that otherwise wouldn't occur.

More on the tradition can be found on the "reliable" source of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Red_Wings#Fan_Tradition:_The_Octop…

By Tobias Zimmerman (not verified) on 23 Jun 2008 #permalink

Great article. Oh, and I hope PZ never sees that picture!

By themadlolscientist (not verified) on 23 Jun 2008 #permalink

You're just trolling for a Pharyngulation with a title like that, aren't you?

:makes note to buy Microcosm: