It can change color from white to deep purple, and also change its skin texture from spiky to smooth. Today, we’re singing the praises of that eight legged invertebrate: the octopus. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Tamie Gray is a Museum Specialist at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The zoo is home to a number of octopus, who frequently surprise the staff with their ingenuity.
“We’ve had octopus here that could open up a jar with his food in it. We put the food in the jar. We show him what we’re putting in there. We give him the jar and he’ll just unscrew the lid and take the food out. We haven’t trained him to give us the jar back yet so we have to scoop it out. But then he just drops the jar. And it’s neat, when he takes the lid off he kind of just starts putting an arm in and he could put a couple of arms just pouring into a peanut butter jar.”
Octopus have also been known to squeeze their bodies through passageways no larger than a quarter.
“The octopus has no bones. It has nothing hard except for that beak and that’s what enables it to squeeze through anything. It will start with one little tip of its arm and it will go through and feel it and then pretty soon it’ll just completely stretch out into a thin, thin tube. So I’ve seen videos where it is going through basically a piece of clear PVC tubing. The whole thing. Even though the mantle can be the size of a basketball, it can squeeze down into a little tube.” For transcripts of this and other programs in our series, please visit our website at Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.