It’s not so much the tool using, it’s the fact that he can sort out which hand grabs which bit.
Okay, I might be a little late coming to this particular science party, but I still think this is something worth tapping you dudes on the shoulder for and having a look.
So, here. Look.
That, dudes, is a veined octopus and he’s in the middle of building a house on the sea bottom near Indonesia.
It’s long been known that octopi will make use of some discarded shells or other bits of detritus on the ocean floor to snuggle into and have a bit of a hide out.
This is the first time, though, that we’ve ever seen evidence of an octopus taking a coconut shell, dragging it along the ocean floor and then putting it together with another coconut shell to form a little shelter for the octopus. That, dudes, is tool using. Something we used to think was the sole province of humans, most monkeys and — occasionally — Rush Limbaugh.
“I was gobsmacked,” said Julian Finn, a research biologist at Museum Victoria in Melbourne who specializes in cephalopods. “I mean, I’ve seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I’ve never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh.”
Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria filmed the octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies, and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot up to 65 feet feet away from where the creature originally found the shells.
What makes this unusual isn’t that the octopus is using a foreign object for protection. Hermit crabs do that sort of thing all the time. No, what makes this remarkable is that during the transportation process, the octopus is getting no protection at all from the shell. It’s that the octopus is working now for a benefit later.
This octopus is pretty much just proven to be more mature than most human teenagers, who can’t actually see the benefit of doing something now if they’ll have to wait 10 minutes to reap a reward.
*No wives were harmed in the production of this blog post.
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