1. MarcusA says

    A cephalopod opening a jar is cool. But what I really want to see is a creationist opening a book, a rare event in nature.

  2. Bride of Shrek says

    Yeah Yeah, come back to me when s/he learns to use a corkscrew, then s/he can open bottles with something more useful thatn a dead prawn inside, like wine.

    See what I did there- no gender specific terminology. Don’t want to offend the critter.

  3. says

    Now if we can get them to work for minimum wage, we can replace the children working in overseas sweatshops with cephalopods. Of course, they wouldn’t be sweatshops then, would they?

  4. Sili says


    New picture to the left. Labelled “London” and dated 31/3.

    Have you been across the pond without my noticing? Interviewing for the Simony chair, perhaps?

    Yes, I do realise that the picture is likely older. I think the weather was much worse than that in England a month ago. A guy can dream, right.

  5. says

    #9: Yeah, I was noticing that, too. PZ was thinking the octopus video would distract us and we wouldn’t spot his new picture.

  6. Bride of Shrek says

    As Billy Connolly would say, I think it makes him look all windswept and interesting.

  7. Bride of Shrek says

    Click on the photo to see th enlarged copy and have a gander at the yank tourist giveaway in the top pocket. A bit of advice PZ, never walk through Brixton with that on show, you’ll get mugged.

  8. Emmanuel_Goldstein says

    Great. Now can they teach them not to litter?

    That was actually very cool to watch. ;^)

  9. Janine ID says

    I think I finally know PZ’s game here. Ever since I have been reading this blog, PZ and the minions have stated how they are waiting for their cephalopod overlords. And now this thread about cephalopods building cell phones. This is a classic misdirection.

    All this time, PZ has directed his cephalopod crew to build armaments factories at the bottom of the sea. This way spy satellites are not able to keep on eye on this growing threat. Soon, the cephalopod will provide those weapons to their above ground allies. For what purpose, I have not figured out. Beneath that mind mannered facade of PZ’s lies a squirming mad squid. All this time, he has been squirting ink in our eyes.

  10. Nemo says

    #5: No, they generally don’t read that one either (just thump it).

    #8: Yeah, the actual act was concealed, AFAICT. I think it would be much harder to open it without unscrewing it; and clearly, the octopus is physically capable of it. But I didn’t actually see it happen. Anyone else?

  11. says

    A bit with, a bit without unscrewing, methinks. When the opened jar sinks to the bottom, it looks somewhat cracked along the rim, doesn’t it?


  12. JRQ says

    In related news: Colossal Squid carcass in New. Zealand being thawed in for dissection over the next few days. Apparently there will be also be a live webcast.

  13. Scrofulum says

    I suppose the most appropriate language for studying sea creatures is Finnish, isn’t it?

    I’ll get me coat . . .

  14. Ichthyic says

    This is a classic misdirection.


    There’s really no need for misdirection.
    Your doom is inevitable.

    May you and yours be eaten first!

    *tips hat*

  15. Aleksi says

    #8: The guy explaining in the video says that the octopus opens it by unscrewing it bit by bit. It’s just hard to see in the video.

  16. says

    I kinda wish the video was translated, only so I could understand why the human host needed to spend so much time (the first minute) demonstrating the use of a screw-top bottle.

    “Dude, you’re going to put food in the bottle and let the octopus unscrew it! We get it! Get to the video, already!”


  17. Incomplete Cephalization says


    I’m new to reading this blog so I don’t know if this is as old as the hills, but has anyone seen this? Pretty awesome footage of a giant Pacific octopus vs. a dog shark.

    Octopus vs. Shark

  18. Ichthyic says

    #8: The guy explaining in the video says that the octopus opens it by unscrewing it bit by bit. It’s just hard to see in the video.

    from what I could see, it looks like it holds the lid still, and turns the bottle itself with two of its arms.

    We used to have an O. bimaculoides at the Cal Academy of Sciences (Steinhart Aquarium) that also could twist the lids off of large bottles. It was a bit of a pest as well; at night it would escape from its home tank, open the lids on neighboring tanks, and selectively “remove” one of the inhabitants for dinner, then go back to its home tank.

    Singlehandedly lead to new aquarium lids.

    It’s really a shame these beasties don’t live longer.

  19. says

    It definitely looked like it just ripped the top off – both from the sudden jerk you see as the top separates to the view of the rim of the bottle, which is clearly uneven, as it sinks down. Not that that isn’t cool in and of itself (recognizing it needed to somehow open the container to get at its food), but it is not quite as cool as actually unscrewing things. Of course, it is also possible it unscrewed it while pulling hard, so it broke on the way – as several posters have said, the act is largely concealed.

  20. says

    I hope they start building phones ASAP. The current manufacturers know bugger-all about building phones that don’t die the instant you get them damp… besides, how awesome would it be to own a cephalophone? ;-D

  21. says

    So a guy walks into a bar, and there’s this octopus sitting at the bar. The guy asks the bartender, “whats with the octopus?”. The bartender replies, “watch this” and give the octopus a bottle of beer, and the octopus opens it. “That’s amazing!” the guy says. As the octopus drinks the beer, the guy notices all the empty bottles on the bar. He asks the bartender if it’s a good idea for the octopus to drink that much, and the bartender replies. “It’s okay. That squid playing pool over there is his DD”

  22. Das Squid says


    Ouch… … Ouch.

    If you look at it carefully, you can see it unscrewing the jar bit by bit just before it disappears from view. Fantastically interesting, and with the use of my handle, obviously related to my interests!

  23. says

    Ichthyic: We used to have an O. bimaculoides at the Cal Academy of Sciences (Steinhart Aquarium)…

    Wait, are you still there?

    I remember that octopus. I used to stand in front of its tank and get hypnotized. Imagine feeling through that many arms, in that many shapes. Phew. Bones are overrated.

  24. AppreciativeLurker says

    How wily is the octopus when it beholds a crab
    It twines its facile tentacles and deftly does it nab
    The innocent crustacean from the bottle in the lab.

    (Sorry, “jar” just doesn’t scan.)

  25. Glen says

    Actually, I remember reading about this, many years pre-web.

    Dumb animals? Not likely.

  26. shonny says

    Satane perkele, that was cool!
    And in Finnish, the world’s best language for swearing and general ungodliness.

  27. Ichthyic says

    Wait, are you still there?

    nope. I was there doing research back around 89-91.

    I spent a lot of time in the back, rearranging the tanks after hours for experiments and whatnot.

    There is a slim possibility that if you visited around those years that you might have caught some of the setups studying territorial behavior in garibaldi I had set up.

    They were in the big, inner corner tank, at the end of the first row.

    sometimes we had it corned off for filming.

    sound familiar at all?

  28. Matti K. says

    gg: “I kinda wish the video was translated, only so I could understand why the human host needed to spend so much time (the first minute) demonstrating the use of a screw-top bottle.”

    “Materials and methods”, you see.

  29. geru says

    A short translation:

    The host explains that they use a peeled shrimp, sometimes it’s shellfish. The jar is closed, and handed to the octopus with pliers, since it usually likes to grab on hands, and not let go very easily. While the jar is being given, he says that sometimes the octopus will hang on to the pliers, and they’ll just leave them in the tank, until it decides to give them up.

    Seems like their show number needs a little more practice with the pliers, “Bad Cephalopod, bad! let go of the pliers!” *grrrr* :)

  30. Peter Ashby says

    It might have been better had the lid/jar been marked so the turning was more obvious. I liked the way those taste equipped tentacles dipped repeatedly into the jar to check that there were indeed no more tasty morsels therein.

    And thanks for the shark vs octopus vid Incomplete Cephalisation. I wondered how the octopus was going to despatch the shark and then I saw the tentacle clamping the shark’s mouth shut. The octopus suffocated the shark. Very cool.

    Reminds me, back in school I was a lab monitor and one lunchtime we watched as a starfish pursued a rockfish in the marine tank (local fauna, NZ). It chased the fish to exhaustion, caught and ate it.

    I welcome our invertebrate overlords. May you and yours be eaten first.

  31. David Marjanović, OM says

    “It’s okay. That squid playing pool over there is his DD”

    What does DD mean?

  32. craig says

    Well the video is cool, but I still can’t figure out why the octopus wants the ocarina in the first place.

    Gorgeous octopus though. Really beautiful and graceful.

  33. ZwaM says

    #9: The url of the picture suggests London, 03/31/2008. The “date taken” field in pzm_london_lg.jpg reveals 10/12/2006. But then notice the double-decker bus that retired in 2005.
    Any Londoners on this blog? They could definitely settle the matter by dating the construction site behind the bus.

  34. says

    So much speculation over a changed photo! The picture was taken in October of 2006 when Larry Moran and I were in London (he took this picture; the photo Larry uses on his blog was taken by me on the same trip. Symmetry!) I got around to uploading it to the sb site in March of this year.

    I changed it because I keep getting photo requests for various talks and articles, and now there’s one right there on the main page that anyone can find.

  35. Bride of Shrek says

    The occie is eating a shellfish. Obviously it’s not a TRUE Christian then.

  36. Peter says

    Can they be trained to make t-shirts? Imagine one working 4 sewing machines at once!