The octopus is a soft-bodied, eight-limbed mollusc of the order Octopoda. Around 300 species are recognised, and the order is grouped within the class Cephalopoda with squids, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. Like other cephalopods, the octopus is bilaterally symmetric with two eyes and a beak, with its mouth at the center point of the eight limbs (traditionally called "arms", sometimes mistakenly called "tentacles"). The soft body can rapidly alter its shape, enabling octopuses to squeeze through small gaps. They trail their eight appendages behind them as they swim. The siphon is used both for respiration and for locomotion, by expelling a jet of water. Octopuses have a complex nervous system and excellent sight, and are among the most intelligent and behaviourally diverse of all invertebrates.
Octopuses inhabit various regions of the ocean, including coral reefs, pelagic waters, and the seabed; some live in the intertidal zone and others at abyssal depths. Most species grow fast, mature early and are short-lived. During breeding, the male uses a specially adapted arm to deliver a bundle of sperm directly into the female's mantle cavity, after which he becomes senescent and dies. The female deposits fertilised eggs in a den and cares for them until they hatch, after which she also dies. Strategies to defend themselves against predators include the expulsion of ink, the use of camouflage and threat displays, their abilities to jet quickly through the water and hide, and even through deceit. All octopuses are venomous, but only the blue-ringed octopuses are known to be deadly to humans.
Octopuses appear in mythology as sea monsters like the Kraken of Norway and the Akkorokamui of the Ainu, and probably the Gorgon of ancient Greece. A battle with an octopus appears in Victor Hugo's book Toilers of the Sea, inspiring other works such as Ian Fleming's Octopussy. Octopuses appear in Japanese erotic art, shunga. They are eaten and considered a delicacy by humans in many parts of the world, especially the Mediterranean and the Asian seas.
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The scientific Latin term octopus was derived from Ancient Greek ὀκτώπους, a compound form of ὀκτώ (oktō, "eight") and πούς (pous, "foot"), itself a variant form of ὀκτάπους, a word used for example by Alexander of Tralles (c. 525–605) for the common octopus. The standard pluralised form of "octopus" in English is "octopuses"; the Ancient Greek plural ὀκτώποδες, "octopodes" (/ɒkˈtɒpədiːz/), has also been used historically. The alternative plural "octopi" – which wrongly assumes it is a Latin second declension "-us" noun or adjective when, in either Greek or Latin, it is a third declension one – is considered grammatically incorrect, but is used frequently enough to be acknowledged by the descriptivist Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary and Webster's New World College Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary lists "octopuses", "octopi", and "octopodes", in that order, reflecting frequency of use, calling "octopodes" rare and noting that "octopi" is based on a misunderstanding. The New Oxford American Dictionary (3rd Edition, 2010) lists "octopuses" as the only acceptable pluralisation, and indicates that "octopodes" is still occasionally used, but that "octopi" is incorrect.
The giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is often cited as the largest known octopus species. Adults usually weigh around 15 kg (33 lb), with an arm span of up to 4.3 m (14 ft). The largest specimen of this species to be scientifically documented was an animal with a live mass of 71 kg (156.5 lb). Much larger sizes have been claimed for the giant Pacific octopus: one specimen was recorded as 272 kg (600 lb) with an arm span of 9 m (30 ft). A carcass of the seven-arm octopus, Haliphron atlanticus, weighed 61 kg (134 lb) and was estimated to have had a live mass of 75 kg (165 lb). The smallest species is Octopus wolfi, which is around 2.5 cm (1 in) and weighs less than 1 g (0.035 oz).
The octopus is bilaterally symmetrical along its dorso-ventral axis; the head and foot are at one end of an elongated body and function as the anterior (front) of the animal. The head includes the mouth and brain. The foot has evolved into a set of flexible, prehensile appendages, known as "arms", that surround the mouth and are attached to each other near their base by a webbed structure. The arms can be described based on side and sequence position (such as L1, R1, L2, R2) and divided into four pairs. The two rear appendages are generally used to walk on the sea floor, while the other six are used to forage for food; hence some biologists refer to the animals has having six "arms" and two "legs". The bulbous and hollow mantle is fused to the back of the head and is known as the visceral hump; it contains most of the vital organs. The mantle cavity has muscular walls and contains the gills; it is connected to the exterior by a funnel or siphon. The mouth of an octopus, located underneath the arms, has a sharp hard beak.
The skin consists of a thin outer epidermis with mucous cells and sensory cells, and a connective tissue dermis consisting largely of collagen fibres and various cells allowing colour change. Most of the body is made of soft tissue allowing it to lengthen, contract, and contort itself. The octopus can squeeze through tiny gaps; even the larger species can pass through an opening close to 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. Lacking skeletal support, the arms work as muscular hydrostats and contain longitudinal, transverse and circular muscles around a central axial nerve. They can extend and contract, twist to left or right, bend at any place in any direction or be held rigid.
The interior surfaces of the arms are covered with circular, adhesive suckers. The suckers allow the octopus to anchor itself or to manipulate objects. Each sucker is usually circular and bowl-like and has two distinct parts: an outer shallow cavity called an infundibulum and a central hollow cavity called an acetabulum, both of which are thick muscles covered in a protective chitinous cuticle. When a sucker attaches to a surface, the orifice between the two structures is sealed. The infundibulum provides adhesion while the acetabulum remains free, and muscle contractions allow for attachment and detachment.
The eyes of the octopus are large and are at the top of the head. They are similar in structure to those of a fish and are enclosed in a cartilaginous capsule fused to the cranium. The cornea is formed from a translucent epidermal layer and the slit-shaped pupil forms a hole in the iris and lies just behind. The lens is suspended behind the pupil and photoreceptive retinal cells cover the back of the eye. The pupil can be adjusted in size and a retinal pigment screens incident light in bright conditions.
Some species differ in form from the typical octopus body shape. Members of the suborder Cirrina have stout gelatinous bodies with webbing that reaches near the tip of their arms, and two large fins above the eyes, supported by an internal shell. Fleshy papillae or cirri are found along the bottom of the arms, and the eyes are more developed.
Octopuses have a closed circulatory system, in which the blood remains inside blood vessels. Octopuses have three hearts; a systemic heart that circulates blood round the body and two branchial hearts that pump it through each of the two gills. The systemic heart is inactive when the animal is swimming and thus it tires quickly and prefers to crawl. Octopus blood contains the copper-rich protein haemocyanin to transport oxygen. This makes the blood very viscous and it requires considerable pressure to pump it round the body; octopuses' blood pressures can exceed 75 mmHg. In cold conditions with low oxygen levels, haemocyanin transports oxygen more efficiently than haemoglobin. The haemocyanin is dissolved in the plasma instead of being carried within blood cells, and gives the blood a bluish colour.
The systemic heart has muscular contractile walls and consists of a single ventricle and two atria, one for each side of the body. The blood vessels consist of arteries, capillaries and veins and are lined with a cellular endothelium which is quite unlike that of most other invertebrates. The blood circulates through the aorta and capillary system, to the vena cavae, after which the blood is pumped through the gills by the auxiliary hearts and back to the main heart. Much of the venous system is contractile, which helps circulate the blood.
Respiration involves drawing water into the mantle cavity through an aperture, passing it through the gills, and expelling it through the siphon. The ingress of water is achieved by contraction of radial muscles in the mantle wall, and flapper valves shut when strong circular muscles force the water out through the siphon. Extensive connective tissue lattices support the respiratory muscles and allow them to expand the respiratory chamber. The lamella structure of the gills allows for a high oxygen uptake; up to 65% in water at 20 °C (68 °F). Water flow over the gills correlates with locomotion, and an octopus can propel its body when it expels water out of its siphon.
The thin skin of the octopus absorbs additional oxygen. When resting, around 41% of an octopus's oxygen absorption is through the skin. This decreases to 33% when it swims, as more water flows over the gills; skin oxygen uptake also increases. When it is resting after a meal, absorption through the skin can drop to 3% of its total oxygen uptake.
The digestive system of the octopus begins with the buccal mass which consists of the mouth with its chitinous beak, the pharynx, radula and salivary glands. The radula is a spiked, muscular tongue-like organ with multiple rows of tiny teeth. Food is broken down and is forced into the oesophagus by two lateral extensions of the esophageal side walls in addition to the radula. From there it is transferred to the gastrointestinal tract, which is mostly suspended from the roof of the mantle cavity by numerous membranes. The tract consists of a crop, where the food is stored; a stomach, where food is ground down; a caecum where the now sludgy food is sorted into fluids and particles and which plays an important role in absorption; the digestive gland, where liver cells break down and absorb the fluid and become "brown bodies"; and the intestine, where the accumulated waste is turned into faecal ropes by secretions and blown out of the funnel via the rectum.
During osmoregulation, fluid is added to the pericardia of the branchial hearts. The octopus has two nephridia (equivalent to vertebrate kidneys) which are associated with the branchial hearts; these and their associated ducts connect the pericardial cavities with the mantle cavity. Before reaching the branchial heart, each branch of the vena cava expands to form renal appendages which are in direct contact with the thin-walled nephridium. The urine is first formed in the pericardial cavity, and is modified by excretion, chiefly of ammonia, and selective absorption from the renal appendages, as it is passed along the associated duct and through the nephridiopore into the mantle cavity.
The octopus (along with cuttlefish) has the highest brain-to-body mass ratios of all invertebrates; it is also greater than that of many vertebrates. It has a highly complex nervous system, only part of which is localised in its brain, which is contained in a cartilaginous capsule. Two-thirds of an octopus's neurons are found in the nerve cords of its arms, which show a variety of complex reflex actions that persist even when they have no input from the brain. Unlike vertebrates, the complex motor skills of octopuses are not organised in their brain via an internal somatotopic map of its body, instead using a nonsomatotopic system unique to large-brained invertebrates.
Like other cephalopods, octopuses can distinguish the polarisation of light. Colour vision appears to vary from species to species, for example being present in O. aegina but absent in O. vulgaris. Researchers believe that opsins in the skin can sense different wavelengths of light and help the creatures choose a coloration that camouflages them, in addition to light input from the eyes. Other researchers hypothesise that cephalopod eyes in species which only have a single photoreceptor protein may use chromatic aberration to turn monochromatic vision into colour vision, though this sacrifices image quality. This would explain pupils shaped like the letter U, the letter W, or a dumbbell, as well as explaining the need for colourful mating displays.
Attached to the brain are two special organs called statocysts (sac-like structures containing a mineralised mass and sensitive hairs), that allow the octopus to sense the orientation of its body. They provide information on the position of the body relative to gravity and can detect angular acceleration. An autonomic response keeps the octopus's eyes oriented so that the pupil is always horizontal. Octopuses may also use the statocyst to hear sound. The common octopus can hear sounds between 400 Hz and 1000 Hz, and hears best at 600 Hz.
Octopuses also have an excellent sense of touch. The octopus's suction cups are equipped with chemoreceptors so the octopus can taste what it touches. Octopus arms do not become tangled or stuck to each other because the sensors recognise octopus skin and prevent self-attachment.
The arms contain tension sensors so the octopus knows whether its arms are stretched out, but this is not sufficient for the brain to determine the position of the octopus's body or arms. As a result, the octopus does not possess stereognosis; that is, it does not form a mental image of the overall shape of the object it is handling. It can detect local texture variations, but cannot integrate the information into a larger picture. The neurological autonomy of the arms means the octopus has great difficulty learning about the detailed effects of its motions. It has a poor proprioceptive sense, and it knows what exact motions were made only by observing the arms visually.
The ink sac of an octopus is located under the digestive gland. A gland attached to the sac produces the ink, and the sac stores it. The sac is close enough to the funnel for the octopus to shoot out the ink with a water jet. Before it leaves the funnel, the ink passes through glands which mix it with mucus, creating a thick, dark blob which allows the animal to escape from a predator. The main pigment in the ink is melanin, which gives it its black colour. Cirrate octopuses lack the ink sac.
Octopuses are gonochoric and have a single, posteriorly-located gonad which is associated with the coelom. The testis in males and the ovary in females bulges into the gonocoel and the gametes are released here. The gonocoel is connected by the gonoduct to the mantle cavity, which it enters at the gonopore. An optic gland creates hormones that cause the octopus to mature and age and stimulate gamete production. The gland may be triggered by environmental conditions such as temperature, light and nutrition, which thus control the timing of reproduction and lifespan.
When octopuses reproduce, the male uses a specialised arm called a hectocotylus to transfer spermatophores (packets of sperm) from the terminal organ of the reproductive tract (the cephalopod "penis") into the female's mantle cavity. The hectocotylus in benthic octopuses is usually the third right arm, which has a spoon-shaped depression and modified suckers near the tip. In most species, fertilisation occurs in the mantle cavity.
The reproduction of octopuses has been studied in only a few species. One such species is the giant Pacific octopus, in which courtship is accompanied, especially in the male, by changes in skin texture and colour. The male may cling to the top or side of the female or position himself beside her. There is some speculation that he may first use his hectocotylus to remove any spermatophore or sperm already present in the female. He picks up a spermatophore from his spermatophoric sac with the hectocotylus, inserts it into the female's mantle cavity, and deposits it in the correct location for the species, which in the giant Pacific octopus is the opening of the oviduct. Two spermatophores are transferred in this way; these are about one metre (yard) long, and the empty ends may protrude from the female's mantle. A complex hydraulic mechanism releases the sperm from the spermatophore, and it is stored internally by the female.
About forty days after mating, the female giant Pacific octopus attaches strings of small fertilised eggs (10,000 to 70,000 in total) to rocks in a crevice or under an overhang. Here she guards and cares for them for about five months (160 days) until they hatch. In colder waters, such as those off of Alaska, it may take as much as 10 months for the eggs to completely develop.:74 The female aerates the eggs and keeps them clean; if left untended, many eggs will not hatch. She does not feed during this time and dies soon afterwards. Males become senescent and die a few weeks after mating.
The eggs have large yolks; cleavage (division) is superficial and a germinal disc develops at the pole. During gastrulation, the margins of this grow down and surround the yolk, forming a yolk sac, which eventually forms part of the gut. The dorsal side of the disc grows upwards and forms the embryo, with a shell gland on its dorsal surface, gills, mantle and eyes. The arms and funnel develop as part of the foot on the ventral side of the disc. The arms later migrate upwards, coming to form a ring around the funnel and mouth. The yolk is gradually absorbed as the embryo develops.
Most young octopuses hatch as paralarvae and are planktonic for weeks to months, depending on the species and water temperature. They feed on copepods, arthropod larvae and other zooplankton, eventually settling on the ocean floor and developing directly into adults with no distinct metamorphoses that are present in other groups of mollusc larvae. Octopus species that produce larger eggs – including the southern blue-ringed, Caribbean reef, California two-spot, Eledone moschata and deep sea octopuses – do not have a paralarval stage, but hatch as benthic animals similar to the adults.:74–75
In the argonaut (paper nautilus), the female secretes a fine, fluted, papery shell in which the eggs are deposited and in which she also resides while floating in mid-ocean. In this she broods the young, and it also serves as a buoyancy aid allowing her to adjust her depth. The male argonaut is minute by comparison and has no shell.
Octopuses have a relatively short life expectancy; some species live for as little as six months. The giant Pacific octopus, one of the two largest species of octopus, may live for as much as five years. Octopus lifespan is limited by reproduction: males can live for only a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch. Octopus reproductive organs mature due to the hormonal influence of the optic gland but result in the inactivation of their digestive glands, typically causing the octopus to die from starvation.:276–277 Experimental removal of both optic glands after spawning was found to result in the cessation of broodiness, the resumption of feeding, increased growth, and greatly extended lifespans.
Octopuses live in every ocean, and different species have adapted to different marine habitats. As juveniles, common octopuses inhabit shallow tide pools. The Hawaiian day octopus (Octopus cyanea) lives on coral reefs; argonauts drift in pelagic waters. Abdopus aculeatus mostly lives in near-shore seagrass beds. Some species are adapted to the cold, ocean depths. The spoon-armed octopus (Bathypolypus arcticus) is found in abyssal plains at depths of 1,000 m (3,300 ft), and Vulcanoctopus hydrothermalis lives near hydrothermal vents at 2,000 m (6,600 ft). The cirrate species are often free-swimming and live in deep-water habitats. No species are known to live in fresh water.
Most species are solitary when not mating, though a few are known to occur in high densities and with frequent interactions, signaling, mate defending and eviction of individuals from dens. This is likely the result of abundant food supplies combined with limited den sites. Octopuses hide in dens, which are typically crevices in rocky outcrops or other hard structures, though some species burrow into sand or mud. Octopuses are not territorial but generally remain in a home range; they may leave the area in search of food. They can use navigation skills to return to a den without having to retrace their outward route. They are not known to be migratory.
Octopuses bring captured prey back to the den where they can eat it safely. Sometimes the octopus catches more prey than it can eat, and the den is often surrounded by a midden of dead and uneaten food items. Other creatures, such as fish, crabs, molluscs and echinoderms, often share the den with the octopus, either because they have arrived as scavengers, or because they have survived capture.
Nearly all octopuses are predatory; bottom-dwelling octopuses eat mainly crustaceans, polychaete worms, and other molluscs such as whelks and clams; open-ocean octopuses eat mainly prawns, fish and other cephalopods. Major items in the diet of the giant Pacific octopus include bivalve molluscs such as the cockle Clinocardium nuttallii, clams and scallops, and crustaceans such as crabs and spider crabs. Prey that it is likely to reject include moon snails, because they are too large, and limpets, rock scallops, chitons and abalone, because they are too securely fixed to the rock.
A benthic (bottom-dwelling) octopus typically moves among the rocks and feels through the crevices. The creature may make a jet-propelled pounce on prey and pull it towards the mouth with its arms, the suckers restraining it. Small prey may be completely trapped by the webbed structure. Octopuses usually inject crustaceans like crabs with a paralysing saliva then dismember them with their beaks. Octopuses feed on shelled molluscs either by forcing the valves apart, or by drilling a hole in the shell to inject a nerve toxin. It used to be thought that the hole was drilled by the radula, but it has now been shown that minute teeth at the tip of the salivary papilla are involved, and an enzyme in the toxic saliva is used to dissolve the calcium carbonate of the shell. It takes about three hours for O. vulgaris to create a 0.6 mm (0.024 in) hole. Once the shell is penetrated, the prey dies almost instantaneously, its muscles relax, and the soft tissues are easy for the octopus to remove. Crabs may also be treated in this way; tough-shelled species are more likely to be drilled, and soft-shelled crabs are torn apart.
Some species have other modes of feeding. Grimpoteuthis has a reduced or non-existent radula and swallows prey whole. In the deep-sea genus Stauroteuthis, some of the muscle cells that control the suckers in most species have been replaced with photophores which are believed to fool prey by directing them towards the mouth, making them one of the few bioluminescent octopuses.
Octopuses mainly move about by relatively slow crawling, with some swimming in a head-first position. Jet propulsion, or backwards swimming, is their fastest means of locomotion, followed by swimming and crawling. When in no hurry, they usually crawl on either solid or soft surfaces. Several arms are extended forwards, some of the suckers adhere to the substrate and the animal hauls itself forwards with its powerful arm muscles, while other arms may push rather than pull. As progress is made, other arms move ahead to repeat these actions and the original suckers detach. During crawling, the heart rate nearly doubles, and the animal requires ten or fifteen minutes to recover from relatively minor exercise.
Most octopuses swim by expelling a jet of water from the mantle through the siphon into the sea. The physical principle behind this is that the force required to accelerate the water through the orifice produces a reaction that propels the octopus in the opposite direction. The direction of travel depends on the orientation of the siphon. When swimming, the head is at the front and the siphon is pointed backwards, but when jetting, the visceral hump leads, the siphon points towards the head and the arms trail behind, with the animal presenting a fusiform appearance. In an alternative method of swimming, some species flatten themselves dorso-ventrally, and swim with the arms held out sideways, and this may provide lift and be faster than normal swimming. Jetting is used to escape from danger, but is physiologically inefficient, requiring a mantle pressure so high as to stop the heart from beating, resulting in a progressive oxygen deficit.
Cirrate octopuses cannot produce jet propulsion and rely on their fins for swimming. They have neutral buoyancy and drift through the water with the fins extended. They can also contract their arms and surrounding web to make sudden moves known as "take-offs". Another form of locomotion is "pumping", which involves symmetrical contractions of muscles in their webs producing peristaltic waves. This moves the body slowly.
In 2005, Adopus aculeatus and veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) were found to walk on two arms, while at the same time mimicking plant matter. This form of locomotion allows these octopuses to move quickly away from a potential predator without being recognised. A study of this behaviour led to the suggestion that the two rearmost appendages may be more accurately termed "legs" rather than "arms". Some species of octopus can crawl out of the water briefly, which they may do between tide pools while hunting crustaceans or gastropods or to escape predators. "Stilt walking" is used by the veined octopus when carrying stacked coconut shells. The octopus carries the shells underneath it with two arms, and progresses with an ungainly gait supported by its remaining arms held rigid.
Octopuses are highly intelligent; the extent of their intelligence and learning capability are not well defined. Maze and problem-solving experiments have shown evidence of a memory system that can store both short- and long-term memory. It is not known precisely what contribution learning makes to adult octopus behaviour. Young octopuses learn nothing from their parents, as adults provide no parental care beyond tending to their eggs until the young octopuses hatch.:75
In laboratory experiments, octopuses can be readily trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. They have been reported to practise observational learning, although the validity of these findings is contested. Octopuses have also been observed in what has been described as play: repeatedly releasing bottles or toys into a circular current in their aquariums and then catching them. Octopuses often break out of their aquariums and sometimes into others in search of food. They have even boarded fishing boats and opened holds to eat crabs. The veined octopus collects discarded coconut shells, then uses them to build a shelter, an example of tool use.
Octopuses use camouflage when hunting, and to avoid predators. To do this they use specialised skin cells which change the appearance of the skin by adjusting its colour, opacity, or reflectivity. Chromatophores contain yellow, orange, red, brown, or black pigments; most species have three of these colours, while some have two or four. Other colour-changing cells are reflective iridophores and white leucophores. This colour-changing ability is also used to communicate with or warn other octopuses.
Octopuses can create distracting patterns with waves of dark coloration across the body, a display known as the "passing cloud". Muscles in the skin change the texture of the mantle to achieve greater camouflage. In some species, the mantle can take on the spiky appearance of algae; in others, skin anatomy is limited to relatively uniform shades of one colour with limited skin texture. Octopuses that are diurnal and live in shallow water have evolved more complex skin than their nocturnal and deep-sea counterparts.
A "moving rock" trick involves the octopus mimicking a rock and them inching across the open space in a speed matching the movement of in the surrounding water, allowing it to move in plain sight of a predator.
Aside from humans, octopuses may be preyed on by fishes, seabirds, sea otters, pinnipeds, cetaceans, and other cephalopods. Octopuses typically hide or disguise themselves by camouflage and mimicry; some have conspicuous warning coloration (aposematism) or deimatic behaviour. An octopus may spend 40% of its time hidden away in its den. When the octopus is approached, it may extend an arm to investigate. 66% of Enteroctopus dofleini in one study had scars, with 50% having amputated arms. The blue rings of the highly venomous blue-ringed octopus are hidden in muscular skin folds which contract when the animal is threatened, exposing the iridescent warning. The Atlantic white-spotted octopus (Callistoctopus macropus) turns bright brownish red with oval white spots all over in a high contrast display. Displays are often reinforced by stretching out the animal's arms, fins or web to make it look as big and threatening as possible.
Once they have been seen by a predator, they commonly try to escape but can also use distraction with an ink cloud ejected from the ink sac. The ink is thought to reduce the efficiency of olfactory organs, which would aid evasion from predators that employ smell for hunting, such as sharks. Ink clouds of some species might act as pseudomorphs, or decoys that the predator attacks instead.
When under attack, some octopuses can perform arm autotomy, in a manner similar to the way skinks and other lizards detach their tails. The crawling arm may distract would-be predators. Such severed arms remain sensitive to stimuli and move away from unpleasant sensations. Octopuses can replace lost limbs.
Some octopuses, such as the mimic octopus, can combine their highly flexible bodies with their colour-changing ability to mimic other, more dangerous animals, such as lionfish, sea snakes, and eels.
The diseases and parasites that affect octopuses have been little studied, but cephalopods are known to be the intermediate or final hosts of various parasitic cestodes, nematodes and copepods; 150 species of protistan and metazoan parasites have been recognised. The Dicyemidae are a family of tiny worms that are found in the renal appendages of many species; it is unclear whether they are parasitic or are endosymbionts. Coccidians in the genus Aggregata living in the gut cause severe disease to the host. Octopuses have an innate immune system, and the haemocytes respond to infection by phagocytosis, encapsulation, infiltration or cytotoxic activities to destroy or isolate the pathogens. The haemocytes play an important role in the recognition and elimination of foreign bodies and wound repair. Captive animals have been found to be more susceptible to pathogens than wild ones. A gram-negative bacterium, Vibrio lentus, has been found to cause skin lesions, exposure of muscle and death of octopuses in extreme cases.
Cephalopods have existed for 500 million years and octopus ancestors were in the Carboniferous seas 300 million years ago. The oldest known octopus fossil is Pohlsepia, which lived 296 million years ago. Researchers have identified impressions of eight arms, two eyes, and possibly an ink sac. Octopuses are mostly soft tissue, and so fossils are relatively rare. Octopuses, squids and cuttlefish belong to the clade Coleoidea. They are known as "soft-bodied" cephalopods, lacking the external shell of most molluscs and other cephalopods like the nautiloids and the extinct Ammonoidea. Octopuses have eight limbs like other coleoids but lack the extra specialised feeding appendages known as tentacles which are longer and thinner with suckers only at their club-like ends. The vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis) also lacks tentacles but has sensory filaments.
The scientific name Octopoda was first coined and given as the order of octopuses in 1818 by English biologist William Elford Leach, who classified them as Octopoida the previous year. The Octopoda consists of around 300 known species and can be divided into two suborders, the Incirrina and the Cirrina. The incirrate octopuses (the majority of species) lack the cirri and paired swimming fins of the cirrates. In addition, the internal shell of incirrates is either present as a pair of stylets or absent altogether.
Octopuses and other coleoid cephalopods are capable of greater RNA editing (which involves changes to the nucleic acid sequence of the primary transcript of RNA molecules) than any other organisms. Editing is concentrated in the nervous system and affects proteins involved in neural excitability and neuronal morphology. More than 60% of RNA transcripts for coleoid brains are recoded by editing, compared to less than 1% for a human or fruit fly. Coleoids rely mostly on ADAR enzymes for RNA editing, which requires large double-stranded RNA structures to flank the editing sites. Both the structures and editing sites are conserved in the coleoid genome and the mutation rates for the sites are severely hampered. Hence, greater transcriptome plasticity has come as the cost of slower genome evolution. High levels of RNA editing do not appear to be present in more basal cephalopods or other molluscs.
Ancient seafaring people were aware of the octopus, as evidenced by certain artworks and designs. For example, a stone carving found in the archaeological recovery from Bronze Age Minoan Crete at Knossos (1900–1100 BC) has a depiction of a fisherman carrying an octopus. The terrifyingly powerful Gorgon of Greek mythology has been thought to have been inspired by the octopus or squid, the octopus itself representing the severed head of Medusa, the beak as the protruding tongue and fangs, and its tentacles as the snakes. The Kraken are legendary sea monsters of giant proportions said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland, usually portrayed in art as a giant octopus attacking ships. Linnaeus included it in the first edition of his 1735 Systema Naturae. One translation of the Hawaiian creation myth the Kumulipo suggests that the octopus is the lone survivor of a previous age. The Akkorokamui is a gigantic octopus-like monster from Ainu folklore.
A battle with an octopus plays a significant role in Victor Hugo's book Travailleurs de la mer (Toilers of the Sea), relating to his time in exile on Guernsey. Ian Fleming's 1966 short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, and the 1983 James Bond film were partly inspired by Hugo's book.
Japanese erotic art, shunga, includes ukiyo-e woodblock prints such as Katsushika Hokusai's 1814 print Tako to ama (The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife), in which an ama diver is sexually intertwined with a large and a small octopus. The print is a forerunner of tentacle erotica. The biologist P. Z. Myers noted in his science blog, Pharyngula, that octopuses appear in "extraordinary" graphic illustrations involving women, tentacles, and bare breasts.
Since it has numerous arms emanating from a common centre, the octopus is often used as a symbol for a powerful and manipulative organisation, usually negatively.
Octopuses generally avoid humans, but incidents have been verified. For example, a 2.4-metre (8 ft) Pacific octopus, said to be nearly perfectly camouflaged, "lunged" at a diver and "wrangled" over his camera before it let go. Another diver recorded the encounter on video.
All species are venomous, but only blue-ringed octopuses have venom that is lethal to humans. Bites are reported each year across the animals' range from Australia to the eastern Indo-Pacific Ocean. They bite only when provoked or accidentally stepped upon; bites are small and usually painless. The venom appears to be able to penetrate the skin without a puncture, given prolonged contact. It contains tetrodotoxin, which causes paralysis by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. This causes death by respiratory failure leading to cerebral anoxia. No antidote is known, but if breathing can be kept going artificially, patients recover within 24 hours. Bites have been recorded from captive octopuses of other species; they leave swellings which disappear in a day or two.
Octopus fisheries exist around the world with total catches varying between 245,320 and 322,999 metric tons from 1986 to 1995. The world catch peaked in 2007 at 380,000 tons, and fell by a tenth by 2012. Methods to capture octopuses include pots, traps, trawls, snares, drift fishing, spearing, hooking and hand collection. Octopus is eaten in many cultures and is a common food on the Mediterranean and Asian coasts. The arms and sometimes other body parts are prepared in various ways, often varying by species or geography. Live octopuses are eaten in several countries around the world, including the US. Animal welfare groups have objected to this practice on the basis that octopuses can experience pain. Octopuses have a food conversion efficiency greater than that of chickens, making octopus aquaculture a possibility.
In classical Greece, Aristotle (384–322 BC) commented on the colour-changing abilities of the octopus, both for camouflage and for signalling, in his Historia animalium: "The octopus ... seeks its prey by so changing its colour as to render it like the colour of the stones adjacent to it; it does so also when alarmed." Aristotle noted that the octopus had a hectocotyl arm and suggested it might be used in sexual reproduction. This claim was widely disbelieved until the 19th century. It was described in 1829 by the French zoologist Georges Cuvier, who supposed it to be a parasitic worm, naming it as a new species, Hectocotylus octopodis. Other zoologists thought it a spermatophore; the German zoologist Heinrich Müller believed it was "designed" to detach during copulation. In 1856 the Danish zoologist Japetus Steenstrup demonstrated that it is used to transfer sperm, and only rarely detaches.
Octopuses offer many possibilities in biological research, including their ability to regenerate limbs, change the colour of their skin, behave intelligently with a distributed nervous system, and make use of 168 kinds of protocadherins (humans have 58), the proteins that guide the connections neurons make with each other. The California two-spot octopus has had its genome sequenced, allowing exploration of its molecular adaptations. Having independently evolved mammal-like intelligence, octopuses have been compared to hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrials. Their problem-solving skills, along with their mobility and lack of rigid structure enable them to escape from supposedly secure tanks in laboratories and public aquariums.
Due to their intelligence, octopuses are listed in some countries as experimental animals on which surgery may not be performed without anesthesia, a protection usually extended only to vertebrates. In the UK from 1993 to 2012, the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) was the only invertebrate protected under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. In 2012, this legislation was extended to include all cephalopods in accordance with a general EU directive.
Some robotics research is exploring biomimicry of octopus features. Octopus arms can move and sense largely autonomously without intervention from the animal's central nervous system. In 2015 a team in Italy built soft-bodied robots able to crawl and swim, requiring only minimal computation. In 2017 a German company made an arm with a soft pneumatically controlled silicone gripper fitted with two rows of suckers. It is able to grasp objects such as a metal tube, a magazine, or a ball, and to fill a glass by pouring water from a bottle.
As result, marine biologists tend to refer to them as animals with two legs and six arms.
The marauding rascal had occasionally issued from the water in his tank, and clambered up the rocks, and over the wall into the next one; there he had helped himself to a young lump-fish, and, having devoured it, returned demurely to his own quarters by the same route, with well-filled stomach and contented mind.
Blue-ringed octopuses, comprising the genus Hapalochlaena, are four highly venomous species of octopus that are found in tide pools and coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans, from Japan to Australia. They can be identified by their yellowish skin and characteristic blue and black rings that change color dramatically when the animal is threatened. They eat small animals, including crabs, hermit crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans.
They are recognized as one of the world's most venomous marine animals. Despite their small size—12 to 20 cm (5 to 8 in)—and relatively docile nature, they are dangerous to humans if provoked and handled because of their venom, which contains the powerful neurotoxin tetrodotoxin.
The species tend to have a lifespan of approximately two years. This can vary depending on factors such as nutrition, temperature and the intensity of light in its habitat.Cephalopod
A cephalopod () is any member of the molluscan class Cephalopoda (Greek plural κεφαλόποδα, kephalópoda; "head-feet") such as a squid, octopus or nautilus. These exclusively marine animals are characterized by bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles (muscular hydrostats) modified from the primitive molluscan foot. Fishermen sometimes call them inkfish, referring to their common ability to squirt ink. The study of cephalopods is a branch of malacology known as teuthology.
Cephalopods became dominant during the Ordovician period, represented by primitive nautiloids. The class now contains two, only distantly related, extant subclasses: Coleoidea, which includes octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish; and Nautiloidea, represented by Nautilus and Allonautilus. In the Coleoidea, the molluscan shell has been internalized or is absent, whereas in the Nautiloidea, the external shell remains. About 800 living species of cephalopods have been identified. Two important extinct taxa are the Ammonoidea (ammonites) and Belemnoidea (belemnites).Common octopus
The common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) is a mollusc belonging to the class Cephalopoda. Octopus vulgaris is the most studied of all octopus species.Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are a professional ice hockey team based in Detroit. They are members of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL) and are one of the Original Six teams of the league. Founded in 1926, the team was known as the Detroit Cougars from then until 1930. For the 1930–31 and 1931–32 seasons the team was called the Detroit Falcons, and in 1932 changed their name to the Red Wings.As of 2019, the Red Wings have won the most Stanley Cup championships of any NHL franchise based in the United States (11) and are third overall in total Stanley Cup championships, behind the Montreal Canadiens (24) and Toronto Maple Leafs (13). The Wings played their home games at Joe Louis Arena from 1979 until 2017, after playing for 52 years in Olympia Stadium. They moved into the new Little Caesars Arena beginning with the 2017–18 season. The Red Wings are one of the most popular and successful franchises in the NHL; fans and sports commentators refer to the Detroit area as "Hockeytown", which has been a registered trademark owned by the franchise since 1996.Between the 1931–32 and 1965–66 seasons, the Red Wings missed the playoffs only four times. Between the 1966–67 and 1982–83 seasons, the Red Wings made the playoffs only two times. However, thereafter, from 1983–84 to 2015–16, they made the playoffs 30 times in 32 seasons, including 25-straight from 1990–91 to 2015–16 (not counting the cancelled 2004–05 season), at the time the longest streak of postseason appearances in all of North American professional sports. Since 1983–84, the Red Wings have tallied six regular season first-place finishes and have won the Stanley Cup four times (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008).Doctor Octopus
Doctor Octopus (Otto Octavius) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. A highly intelligent mad scientist, Doctor Octopus is typically portrayed as a stocky, myopic man who utilizes four powerful, mechanical appendages, and is a prominent enemy of the superhero Spider-Man.
The character has appeared in numerous Spider-Man animations and video games, and is portrayed by Alfred Molina in the 2004 film Spider-Man 2. In 2009, Doctor Octopus was ranked as IGN's 28th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. His first brief appearance as the Superior Spider-Man was in Daredevil vol. 3 #21 (December 2012) and his first full appearance of the same character was in Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 (Dec. 2012). Comics journalist and historian Mike Conroy writes of the character: "Created by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, Doc Ock, as he became known, has become one of the web slinger's most persistent and dangerous foes." IGN rated him as the greatest enemy of Spider-Man. Though historically portrayed as a supervillain, some depictions of him in the 2000s have indicated him to harbor more noble and honorable character traits, including those seen in the film Spider-Man 2, in the action-adventure video game Marvel's Spider-Man, and in the Superior Spider-Man comics series. In the mainstream comics universe, Octavius has been recently portrayed as struggling to redeem himself, as the antihero Superior Octopus.Giant Pacific octopus
The giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), also known as the North Pacific giant octopus, is a large marine cephalopod belonging to the genus Enteroctopus. Its spatial distribution includes the coastal North Pacific, along California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alaska, Russia, Japan, and Korean Peninsula. It can be found from the intertidal zone down to 2,000 m (6,600 ft), and is best adapted to cold, oxygen-rich water. It is the largest octopus species, based on a scientific record of a 71-kg (156-lb) individual weighed live.Kraken
The kraken () is a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster in Scandinavian folklore of giant size. According to the Norse sagas, the kraken dwells off the coasts of Norway and Greenland and terrorizes nearby sailors. Authors over the years have postulated that the legend may have originated from sightings of giant squids that may grow to 13–15 meters (40–50 feet) in length. The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the kraken have made it a common ocean-dwelling monster in various fictional works. The kraken has been the focus of many superstitious sailors passing the North Atlantic and especially sailors from the Nordic countries due to their close proximity and its Scandinavian origin. Throughout the centuries the kraken has been a staple part of sailors' superstitions and mythos being heavily linked to sailors ability of telling a tall tale.Lady Octopus
Lady Octopus (real name Carolyn Trainer and also known as Doctor Octopus II) is a supervillainess in Marvel Comics. The character is depicted as a protégée to her predecessor of the name and primarily an enemy to Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly).Legend of the Octopus
The Legend of the Octopus is a sports tradition during Detroit Red Wings home playoff games involving dead octopuses thrown onto the ice rink. The origins of the activity go back to the 1952 playoffs, when a National Hockey League team played two best-of-seven series to capture the Stanley Cup. Having eight arms, the octopus symbolized the number of playoff wins necessary for the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. The practice started April 15, 1952, when Pete and Jerry Cusimano, brothers and storeowners in Detroit's Eastern Market, hurled an octopus into the rink of The Old Red Barn. The team swept the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens en route to winning the championship.Since 1952, the practice has persisted with each passing year. In one 1995 game, fans threw 36 octopuses, including a specimen weighing 38 pounds (17 kg). The Red Wings' unofficial mascot is a purple octopus named Al, and during playoff runs, two of these mascots were also hung from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena, symbolizing the 16 wins now needed to take home the Stanley Cup. The practice has become such an accepted part of the team's lore, fans have developed various techniques and "octopus etiquette" for launching the creatures onto the ice.List of Sinister Six members
The Sinister Six are a group of supervillains in the Marvel Comics universe, drawn from Spider-Man's rogues gallery.Mimic octopus
The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is an Indo-Pacific species of octopus capable of impersonating other local species. They are notable for being able to change their skin color and texture in order to blend in with their environment, such as algae-encrusted rock and nearby coral through pigment sacs known as chromatophores. The mimic octopus possesses chromatophores as well as the unique behavior of taking shape of various objects and animals.
The mimic octopus is the only currently known marine animal to be able to mimic such a wide variety of animals. Many animals can imitate a different species to avoid or intimidate predators, but the mimic octopus is the only one that can imitate as diverse a range of forms in order to elude predators.Octopus as food
Humans of some cultures eat octopus. The arms and sometimes other body parts are prepared in various ways, often varying by species and/or geography.
Octopuses are sometimes eaten or prepared alive, a practice that is controversial due to scientific evidence that octopuses experience pain.Octopus card
The Octopus card (Chinese: 八達通) is a reusable contactless stored value smart card for making electronic payments in online or offline systems in Hong Kong. Launched in September 1997 to collect fares for the territory's mass transit system, the Octopus card system is the second contactless smart card system in the world, after the Korean Upass, and has since grown into a widely used payment system for all public transport in Hong Kong, leading to the development of Oyster Card in London, Opal Card in New South Wales and many other similar systems around the world.
The Octopus card has also grown to be used for payment in many retail shops in Hong Kong, including most convenience stores, supermarkets, and fast food restaurants. Other common Octopus payment applications include parking meters, car parks, petrol stations, vending machines, fee payment at public libraries and swimming pools, and more. The cards are also commonly used for non-payment purposes, such as school attendance and access control for office buildings and housing estates.
The Octopus card won the Chairman's Award of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance's 2006 Global IT Excellence Award for, among other things, being the world's leading complex automatic fare collection and contactless smartcard payment system. According to Octopus Cards Limited, operator of the Octopus card system, there are more than 33 million cards in circulation, nearly five times the population of Hong Kong. The cards are used by 99 per cent of the population of Hong Kong aged 16 to 65. The system handles more than 14 million transactions, worth over HK$180 million, on a daily basis.Octopus cyanea
Octopus cyanea, also known as the big blue octopus or day octopus, is an octopus in the family Octopodidae. It occurs in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Hawaii to the eastern coast of Africa. O. cyanea grows to 16 cm in mantle length with arms to at least 80 cm. This octopus was described initially by the British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1849; the type specimen was collected off Australia and is at the Natural History Museum in London.Pacific Northwest tree octopus
The Pacific Northwest tree octopus is an Internet hoax created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato. This fictitious endangered species of cephalopod was given the Latin name "Octopus paxarbolis" (the species name being coined from Latin pax, the root of Pacific, and Spanish arbol meaning "tree"). It was purportedly able to live both on land and in water, and was said to live in the Olympic National Forest and nearby rivers, spawning in water where its eggs are laid. Its major predator was said to be the Sasquatch. The Pacific Northwest tree octopus website is among a number of sites commonly used in Internet literacy classes in schools, although it was not created for that purpose.Packet switching
Packet switching is a method of grouping data that is transmitted over a digital network into packets. Packets are made of a header and a payload. Data in the header are used by networking hardware to direct the packet to its destination where the payload is extracted and used by application software. Packet switching is the primary basis for data communications in computer networks worldwide.
In the early 1960s, American computer scientist Paul Baran developed the concept Distributed Adaptive Message Block Switching with the goal to provide a fault-tolerant, efficient routing method for telecommunication messages as part of a research program at the RAND Corporation, funded by the US Department of Defense. This concept contrasted and contradicted then-established principles of pre-allocation of network bandwidth, largely fortified by the development of telecommunications in the Bell System. The new concept found little resonance among network implementers until the independent work of British computer scientist Donald Davies at the National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom) in 1965. Davies is credited with coining the modern term packet switching and inspiring numerous packet switching networks in the decade following, including the incorporation of the concept in the early ARPANET in the United States.Paul the Octopus
Paul the Octopus (26 January 2008 – 26 October 2010) was a common octopus used to predict the results of association football matches. Accurate predictions in the 2010 World Cup brought him worldwide attention as an animal oracle.
During divinations, Paul's keepers would present him with two boxes containing food. The boxes were identical except that they were decorated with the different team flags of the competitors in an upcoming football match. Whichever box Paul ate from first was considered his prediction for which team would win the match.
His keepers at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, mainly tasked him with predicting the outcomes of international matches in which the German national football team was playing. Paul correctly chose the winning team in four of Germany's six Euro 2008 matches, and all seven of their matches in the 2010 World Cup—including Germany's third place play-off win over Uruguay on 10 July. He also correctly chose Spain as the winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. In all, Paul amassed an overall record of 12 correct predictions out of 14: a success rate of approximately 85.7%.Sinister Six
The Sinister Six is a group of supervillains appearing in Spider-Man comic books published by Marvel Comics. They are drawn from Spider-Man's list of enemies. The original incarnation of the group was organized by Doctor Octopus.Takoyaki
Takoyaki (たこ焼き or 蛸焼) is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. Takoyaki are brushed with takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito. There are many variations to the takoyaki recipe, for example, ponzu (soy sauce with dashi and citrus vinegar), goma-dare (sesame-and-vinegar sauce) or vinegared dashi.
Yaki is derived from "yaku" (焼く) which is one of the cooking methods in Japanese cuisine, meaning "to fry or grill", and can be found in the names of other Japanese cuisine items such as okonomiyaki and ikayaki (other famous Osakan dishes).
Principal commercial fishery species groups
|Land and freshwater gastropods|
|Free-swimming marine bivalves|