Octopus changes color while asleep, possibly dreaming

Here's a video of an octopus changing color while it's asleep. Are the patterns in response to a dream?

Possibly, suspects the Alaska Pacific University professor David Scheel. That video is from an upcoming PBS TV show called "Octopus: Making Contact", and in it, Scheel narrates the color changes thusly:

"She's asleep; she sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit. Then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom.

"This is a camouflage, like she's just subdued a crab and now she's going to sit there and eat it and she doesn't want anyone to notice her. It's a very unusual behavior, to see the color come and go on her mantle like that. I mean, just to be able to see all the different color patterns just flashing one after another — you don't usually see that when an animal's sleeping. This really is fascinating."

The truth is, we don't actually know if cephalopods dream. There is some scant observational data, as this piece in Atlas Obscura noted a while ago:

The only cephalopod with a proven penchant for dreaming is probably the cutest. A 2012 study led by Marcos G. Frank, now a neuroscientist at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane, discovered that sleeping cuttlefish demonstrate a form of rapid eye movement (REM), the same stage of sleep that gives us our dreams, distinguished by the spontaneous activation of brain cells, going off like fireflies in a forest.

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Fishmonger buys 70-pound octopus just to set it free

This is Fred. Fred is free again.

They may not be from space, but octopuses are still incredible, intelligent creatures. One California fishmonger in Morro Bay certainly thinks so.

Earlier this month, Giovanni "Gio" DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni's Fish Market, bought a 70-pound octopus -- who has been named "Fred" -- for "a couple hundred dollars" just to release it back into the wild. And he says he'd do it again.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports:

DeGarimore said he didn't intend for his action to get as much fanfare as it has, but said he would be happy "if my little contribution can make a bigger difference in the world."

That contribution includes no longer selling any octopus-related products on his website, which serves customers across the country, he said.

"It'll hit me in the pocket, but I'd rather stand for something," he said.

(SFGate)

image via Giovanni's Fish Market Facebook page

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Octopus tiki mug

Munktiki's $20 Octopus mug comes in red or purple, and nicely complements their Bell-Buoy mug (sold out, but we can hope for a resupply!). (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Cuttlefish can count to five

Cuttlefish have an intuitive understanding of quantity are able to discern between close numbers like four and five. Here's how scientists made the finding: Read the rest

Octopus George backpack

Belarusian crafter Orange Cat created the Octopus George felted backpack for "crazy octopus lovers" and "sailor man who loves the sea and marine creatures." Read the rest

To imagine the ocean of the future: picture a writhing mass of unkillable tentacles, forever

In Global proliferation of cephalopods a paper in Current Biology, an esteemed group of marine biologists reports that the population of octopuses (and other cephalopods) is booming thanks to its ability to adapt quickly to ocean acidification and temperature change, which is killing off other types of marine life at alarming rates. Read the rest

Cephalopod pancakes

By pancake artist Nathan Shields, whose other creations we've previously featured. Read the rest

Cute octopus flier on post

"Do you want this octopust to have fewer legs?" Spotted in Oakland. (via mikaeladupomp) Read the rest

10,000 baby octopuses, 80,000 arms, 1 night to remember

An octopus' life is short — two years is a pretty common lifespan — and heavily focused on reproduction. They only get one shot at carrying on the genetic lineage and die soon after breeding. Babies are born not by the two, or tens, or even hundreds. Instead, tens of thousands of octopus siblings enter the world all at once — tiny, translucent hatchlings that ride the waves and try not to die more quickly than they already must.

This footage of an brood of giant Pacific octopuses hatching was filmed by divers in Puget Sound just a couple of weeks ago.

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Lady squid dress in drag

The opalescent inshore squid (which, if you've eaten squid in the US, then you've probably eaten before) can change color just like octopuses can. In fact, scientists found that female squid can give themselves a white stripe that looks an awful lot like the testicles of their male counterparts. It's probably some kind of defensive measure, but the scientists are more interested in how the squid change color, not why. That's because the mechanism is unique, and fascinating. Read the rest

When the octopus says, "ouch"

Given that people are going around doing things like cutting off octopus limbs in order to understand their distributed neuron processing system, it's worth asking some questions about how octopuses perceive pain, as well. That's more complicated than you might think. As Katherine Harmon explains, it's likely that octopuses have some kind of awareness of when they're touching something unpleasant. But just how that works, and how similar it might be to the way we vertebrates understand "pain", is a big mystery. Read the rest

Octopus limbs have a mind of their own

A couple of years ago, I recorded a talk on octopus neurobiology. One of the freakiest things you'll learn, if you watch it, is that an octopus' "brain" isn't really a centralized thing the way ours is. The processing capacity is distributed throughout the animal's body. At io9 today, Annalee Newitz writes about a new study that backs up that idea, demonstrating that disembodied octopus arms react to threats in ways a severed human hand never could. Read the rest

Baby nautilus proves you don't need vertebrae to be adorable

This baby nautilus emerged this week from an egg laid last November at San Diego's Birch Aquarium. For this tiny cephalopod, the process of being born took not hours, or even days, but weeks. The ZooBorns site has a series of photos that show how the nautilus slooooooowly emerged from the egg. Read the rest

Octopus found atop England's highest mountain

During a community trash-gathering exercise on England's Scafell Pike, a volunteer found the remains of an octopus near the peak, the BBC reports. "The mountain does attract a lot of people climbing it," said cephalopod discoverer Dave Ascough, 43. "... so unfortunately it does attract a lot of litter" Read the rest

Why young Luiz doesn't want to eat octopus

This thoughtful, articulate young fellow explains why he doesn't want to eat octopus. (Thanks, Sean Ness!) Read the rest

A group of squid is called a ...

For the record, squid come in shoals. Not quite as good as a squad. But still nicely alliterative.

Via Craig McClain

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Celebrate Cephalopod Awareness Days!

A video about cuttlefish and their amazing color-changing skills. Other members of the cephalopod family can also change color, but cuttlefish are famous for their ability to produce moving patterns on their own skin.

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