Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #86: Octopus Edition

Today is All Saint’s Day, but saints are boring, and octopuses are not. I’m pretty sure I haven’t covered octopuses yet, but please don’t correct me if I’m wrong – I hate that.

A female octopus is known as a hen. She can lay up to 400,000 eggs during her fertile period, which lasts seven to 14 days. Males fertilize the eggs by placing their spermatophores into the funnel through which the female breaths (!!) or by simply handing them to her. For reasons no one understands, the female octopus always accepts the male’s love juice with a right tentacle. She probably uses all the left tentacles to wipe her ass.

The mother octopus sacrifices all for the care of her young, which she guards so thoroughly that she even stops eating. Once the eggs have hatched, the mother suffers “a cascade of cellular suicide,” which the Smithsonian Mag describes as “starting from the optic glands and rippling outward through her tissues…until she dies.”

How freakin' graphic.
Image by albert kok from Wikipedia probably.

All octopuses have venom, which they inject using a beak that protrudes from the side of their head. One species, the blue ringed octopus, has enough venom to kill a human. Just one blue ringed octopus, though only 5 to 8 inches (12 to 20 cm) in size, has enough venom to kill 26 adults. Its venom contains a tetrodotoxin, similar to that found in poison dart frogs and pufferfish. At least two people have died due to blue ringed octopus bites, but if the results of my Google search are any indication, you can buy them to keep as pets.

It lures you in with its prettiness, AND THEN IT STRIKES.
Image by Jens Petersen from Wikipedia, definitely.

Most of an octopus’s body is pretty flexible, enabling the animal to squeeze into the tiniest of crevices. In fact, the solidest part of the octopus, aside from its human-killing venom beak, is its eyes, so an octopus’s ability to squeeze into small spaces is pretty much limited by the size of its optical orbs.
Remarkably, the octopus’s eyes retain their orientation even as the octopus itself changes position – when the rest of the octopus rolls over or flips up on its side, its gaze remains fixed on the same spot.

Two-thirds of an octopus’s neurons are found not in its head, but in its tentacles. This allows the tentacles to think for themselves. They’re capable of solving their own problems, like how to open shellfish, probe nooks and crannies, or slap researchers who have lopped them off and are pinching them in order to see how they’ll react.

Octopus ink contains tyrosinase, a compound that causes irritation to the eyes of predators and can confuse their senses of taste and smell. The octopus is not immune to its own ink. If it doesn’t escape from its own ink cloud fast enough, it will die.

The blood of the octopus has a copper base, unlike the iron-based blood of many vertebrates. This allows the octopus to tolerate lower water temperatures and lower oxygen levels in the water, but makes it very vulnerable to the acidification of the world’s oceans that is occurring as the result of climate change.


Finally, the male octopus’s sexual organ, called the ligula, is found at the end of one of its third right arm. So, don’t let it touch you with that one, I guess. 

I think this one might be a female, though, it looks like it has a funnel.

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