Friday Cephalopod: They’re forming tribes!


social-octopus_sm

We’re doomed. The Pacific striped octopus is exhibiting complex social behaviors.

Panamanian biologist Aradio Rodaniche first reported the Pacific striped octopus in 1991 off the coast of Nicaragua, noting its strange behavior—living in groups of possibly up to 40, laying multiple egg clutches, and mating face-to-face and sucker-to-sucker. Most other octopus species, for instance, come together only to mate.

Next thing you know, they’re making spears, forming hunting parties, warring with one another. And then they develop city-states, philosophy, diplomacy, and politics, and all the horrible appurtenances thereof: assassins, lobbyists, and televangelists. Then they take over.

It’s all because of that face-to-face mating. Hey, that’s our thing! They’re copying our specialty! Only they’re making it scarier.

"Regular octopus mating, where the male is behind and on top of the [female]—or far away—that’s scary enough to watch," said Ross. Females of many species, for instance, will sometimes kill and eat their mate, even if they are mating from a distance.

But "watching these guys come and interact with their beaks—wrapped up in a ball of limbs—are they fighting or mating?" he recalled wondering.

OK. They win.

Comments

  1. knowknot says

    - They’d already won…
    – We were lucky enough to be at the Seattle Aquarium when Rain and Squirt (!) mated, and it was truly beautiful, elegant, and graceful.
    Can’t say anything about their experience, but it was incredible from my little human perspective.
    – Oh… and check the BBC site for the world’s most devoted mother, who was, topically, an octopus:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-28545964

  2. samihawkins says

    Aren’t octopuses supposed to be notoriously clever what with opening jars and predicting world cup games? It’ll be interesting to see what they can pull off working as a team.

  3. 2kittehs says

    What a beautiful octopus – and I really like learning about them here. I know absolutely nothing about marine biology.

    Also YAY for the updated site, it’s finally allowed me to log in again (I’m kittehserf at We Hunted the Mammoth).

  4. lakitha tolbert says

    Hi Kittehserf!

    I think it’s probably both exciting and terrifying. They are pretty damn smart on their own but since the parent usually dies right after the little ones hatch, they’re unable to pass on whatever knowledge they’ve gained. Forming tribes may get around that particular hiccup.

  5. favog says

    I actually find it a bit comforting. Years and years of hearing about how smart they are, one thing troubled me. The argument that is most popular when the theists ask “where do you get your morals from?” is all about evolution of a social animal, and what that requires in terms of a social “contract” or something like it. So if the squid and octopus are so intelligent and also solitary, what sort of moral reasoning could they be developing?

    Nice to know maybe H.P. Lovecraft may not have been right after all.

  6. Amphiox says

    Doubtless they’re just waiting for their chance. Probably have a chart somewhere of the rising ocean acidity, which for them is a countdown to when the hairless apes vacate the land and leave the planet to them…

  7. justsomeguy says

    @#2:

    40 brains and 320 arms all working together toward a common goal? Unstoppable.

  8. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    And then they develop city-states, philosophy, diplomacy,

    You get diplomats for free with Writing, and since Philosophy also requires Trade, you’ve definitely got those 2 in the wrong order.

  9. Anthony K says

    Next thing you know, they’re making spears, forming hunting parties, warring with one another. And then they develop city-states, philosophy, diplomacy, and politics, and all the horrible appurtenances thereof: assassins, lobbyists, and televangelists. Then they take over.

    Then they develop steering committees, and it’s all downhill from there until the next species rises to take their place.

  10. Rich Woods says

    Next thing you know, they’re making spears

    I won’t worry too much about that, at least not until they master fire.

    @CD #11:

    Civ4!

  11. sparks says

    They will harness the power of thermal vents and then…………………..

    Game over man! Game over!!!11Eleventy

  12. lakitha tolbert says

    Well as soon as they get on land, I’m sure they’ll master that faster than we did. These guys are Hella smart.

  13. Al Dente says

    I for one welcome our new Pacific striped octopus overlords.

    Well, someone had to say it and I took the hit for the team Horde.

  14. =8)-DX says

    Next thing you know, they’re making spears, forming hunting parties, warring with one another. And then they develop city-states, philosophy, diplomacy, and politics, and all the horrible appurtenances thereof: assassins, lobbyists, and televangelists.

    You got that wrong, that was Newts.

  15. Trebuchet says

    I once again find myself thankful for the short lives of cephalopods.

    Slightly off-topic: What does spell-check have against the word “cephalopods”? It’s perfectly cromulent. Spellcheck suggests “hydrocephalus”. And it doesn’t know “cromulent” or “spellcheck”, either. Does it know “cephalopod”? Apparently yes.