Octopus Intelligence


blog post photo

Photo Credit: Georgia Aquarium.

The octopus is a highly intelligent invertebrate species. They can mimic other animals, change color, use tools, follow cues, solve mazes and even remember information.

When compared to their body weight, octopuses have larger brains than most fish and reptile species. The brain is a unique part of this invertebrate’s anatomy, as it wraps around the esophagus instead of resting in the head. An octopuses’ brain has complex features, like folded lobes and a visual and physical memory zone. Electrical patterns are also apparent.

Aquarist Julie Gee of the Georgia Aquarium shared with me that octopuses are a trainable species. “Their greatest motivation is food. However, they are not the easiest animal to train because their feeding schedules are unpredictable. For example, our Giant pacific octopus might not eat for four or five days, and he will sit and sulk in his cave… and then some days he wants to be fed all the time. If he does a behavior that the keepers like, we can reinforce that behavior by offering him food. Then what you need to do is bridge that to a cue, utilizing some kind of tool, such as a target. So when they see the physical target and touch it, that behavior will be reinforced with a food reward.”

Just six months ago an octopus was discovered in Indonesia that creates his own shelter from coconut shells on the sea floor. View this video clip to get a glimpse of the intelligent octopus using a tool in the wild:


Caught in the Act: Cannibal Octopus airs Wednesday July 7 at 9P et/pt on Nat Geo Wild.

Video Preview: An octupus changes colors before engulfing one of its own. 

Comments

  1. Aaron2030
    July 11, 2010, 9:07 pm

    I’m glad I’m not a octupus, very interesting stuff