Octopuses play with Rubik's Cubes

Researchers from the Weymouth Sea Life Centre are providing octopuses with Rubik's cubes to determine whether the animals prefer one tentacle over another, or another, or another, etc. I bet they secretly hope that one of the animals will solve the puzzle. From Nature's The Great Beyond:
“Uniquely, octopuses have more than half their nerves in their arms and have been shown to partially think with their arms,” says Claire Little, of the Weymouth Sea Life Centre. “Many animals have been shown to favour a certain arm so we will see if octopuses can be added to that list.”

According to Little, the findings could help make life in captivity more pleasant for these intelligent, (and occasionally shark eating), animals. “They are very susceptible to stress, so if they do have a favourite side to be fed on, it could reduce risk to them,” she says.
Octupus and Rubik's Cube (Nature)


  1. No. Properly, they would be octopodes, perhaps. But you may as well use English grammar rules as the little-remembered rules of a dead language.

  2. They should try all kinds of toys.

    I say this I can’t get the mental image of some poor confused Octops getting scarbble tiles and a board dumped into it’s tank.

    I always knew he first interspecies communication would consist of “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

  3. Wow I was just going to post the same thing, this post is crying out for a picture or a video. :)

  4. First the Octopodes solve rubiks cubes, then cancer, then they take over the world.

  5. #9: I for one welcome our new Rubik’s Cube-solving, cancer-curing, arm-favoring overlords?

  6. @4 Nelson.

    Octopussies?! I’ve never seen 8, but I’ve seen a woman with 2. Wait, what are we talking about?

  7. I’ve been accused of thinking with one of my appendages, and I certainly do prefer one appendage over the others.

  8. I wonder if there is a correlation between appendages and general intelligence within a species.

  9. I wonder if there is a correlation between appendages and general intelligence within a species.

    Number or size?

  10. “I wonder if there is a correlation between appendages and general intelligence within a species.

    Number or size?”

    size, inversely. sadly.

  11. If they find a way to hide a tasty bit of crab in the cube, and have it pop open when solved, my bet is on the octopus.

  12. Aquarium staff have told me that a bored octopus is a dead octopus. YouTube has plenty of footage of octopuses unscrewing jars to get at food, and I’ve seen dog toys in tanks before for the octopi to explore. A Rubik’s cube seems too flat to me for octopus interest — why not a magic snake or legos?

  13. yes, octopi-pedean-pussies are highly intelligent, easily bored, emotionally vulnerable and naturally blessed with unique physiology…. just try to get them to shut up for five minutes.

  14. Nautili (nautiluses, nautilodes? No way.) have ~ 50, albeit tentacles not arms/legs. I’m afraid they are not very bright, as cephalopods go. They are pretty primitive cephs.

    To paraphrase Claudius, apparently it is quality of appendage rather than quantity (or size) that matters.

  15. I always knew he first interspecies communication would consist of “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

    not “So long, and thanks for all the fish”?

  16. When I was at the Toronto Zoo last week I noticed and laughed at the toys at the top of the octopus tank. Now my world has come into order. It was large multicoloured lego-type pieces though, not Rubik’s cubes.

  17. as a pentapod with attitude, i prefer my tenticles with sticky-rice and a hint of wasabi. and my testicles in cool ranch dressing. yumm.

  18. @26 I believe Martha Stewart did a show on testicles in various dressings. Christmas 1999? I will say that I prefer a warm dressing for my own fellas.

    I can’t eat octopi, they are too smart and generally a little too rubbery.

    I think its really nice that Octopus keepers are trying to make life better for those they care for.

  19. I’ll be very surprised if it does solve the puzzle. My experience with the animals is that although they’re strong and very willing to manipulate objects, they do so haphazardly. The one I worked with opened jars, but it didn’t unscrew them. Instead, it just pried at it until it ripped the lid off the threads.

    The cube is more likely to have pieces ripped apart than be solved.

  20. It is like having a mouth full of rubber bands, but the Wasabe and Kikoman makes it worth the effort.

  21. jst hd t sgn p!! t tll crtn dt my thghts , d nt knw hw dtc yr cmnt cn b chvn !! m vry mprssd wth th fct tht y wrk wth nmls !! gt t y cld jst s sy hv sd s , nd qnch yr thrst t sy b hrd by yr fllw brd sls tht hv nthng bttr t d ( th lks f m) … mn bt t ctlly sy tht ths mrn dmb blb f ntllgnt blb clld ctp r ctpsss my fvrt, cld slv th pzzl , bcs sm pr sp jst hppnd t ctlly sy smthng qt mzng n srcstc wy… mn !! nd y hd t nslt th whl vlvd spcs w cll hmns , by ctlly thnkng th f..ng ctp mght slv th f..ng pzzl… mn hv t lght cgrtt !! nd dn’t fc..ng smk!!!

  22. more than likely the octopus will throw the cube out of the tank and hit someone with it as if to say ‘you solve the damn thing.’ then some kid will do it in about 20 seconds.

  23. I fantasize about being the pet of an intelligent octopus-like species from another planet. They take much better care of me than we do of ourselves. I get only fresh organic food, and have lots to entertain me. I spend a lot of time demonstrating to them that I am indeed intelligent. They don’t buy it.

  24. maybe the rubiks cude designers should hide food inside the cube and see if it will attract the octopuses attention into wanting to solve it.

  25. If you give him a fountain pen maybe he will write the solution to Rubik’s Cube with his ink….people we need a video !!!!!!

  26. #29
    Dude, I actually understood some of that… Go human intellect! But I can’t solve a Rubix Cube…

  27. They have a lot of appendages, are both smart and rubbery, and it’s true they won’t shut up. This would all be very impressive if they weren’t also notorious liars and braggarts. If one ever tells you it solved a rubik’s cube, don’t believe a word of it. Do try it with olive oil and lemongrass, though.

  28. Okay time out… Its octopi, octopods, octopuses… They are all correct. Octopus only live anywhere from 2-5 years and if you have ever been to a aquarium that does NOT work with them they are a very bored, inactive specimen (which is why you hardly see them if they are given a “hiding spot”.

    Nautilus on the other hand do have tentacles. But as primitive as they may be they are one of the most difficult animals to breed in captivity and they have been around for millions of years. They have changed mostly in size but the main organs and functions have stayed the same over the years. They are also the closest living relative to an Octopus. So don’t hate on them because they are primitive. They are very fasinating creatures of the deep.

    If you care to actually learn about what your talking about do research or go to an AZA registered institution.

  29. “I fantasize about being the pet of an intelligent octopus-like species from another planet.”

    NOOOO!!!!! Have you not heard of ilithids, man?!?! Octopus-headed, purple-skinned, humanoid, psychic BRAIN EATERS!!!!?!??!!? No thanks. I’ll take mine with ranch dressing or soy sauce.

  30. perhaps one could give the octopussy a typewriter, and see how long it takes to type up some shakespeare. maybe it couldnt ever,.. perhaps though if you crossed an octopus with a monkey, a monkey with 4 asses, it might type out shake’A’spear if destiny prevailed. however i suspect more than likely it type out some more Lovecraft to add to the mythos. :< ~>~~

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