Everyone knows that octopuses have rounded bodies, bulging eyes, and eight long arms; you may even know that the correct plural term of these interesting invertebrates is not octopi – but did you know that all octopuses are venomous?
Want to learn more about this amazing animal? Here are seven fascinating facts about the octopus that will blow your mind.
1. They’re Very Old
… And we mean very old. The oldest known octopus fossil belongs to a species called Pohlsepia, an creature literally ‘armed’ with eight limbs, two eyes, and possibly an ink sack too. This prehistoric specimen dates back to almost 300 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period – which means cephalopods had already established their shape long before dinosaurs even roamed the earth.
2. They Know How to Use Tools
With age comes wisdom: octopuses are amongst the special set of intelligent animals that have been observed using tools. Veined octopuses (Amphioctopus marginatus) have been seen to pick up discarded coconut shells and use them as mobile homes. More notably, a female giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) at the Seattle Aquarium was able to unlock a childproof pill bottle in five minutes!
3. They’re Shapeshifters
Move chameleons, get out the way! Octopuses can change colour to hide and match their surroundings too – and they can do it even faster than their reptilian rivals! How fast, you ask? An octopus can change the colour of its entire body in just three-tenths of a second. That’s not all: the amazing mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) is capable of changing its body shape to mimic undersea objects, like plants, rocks, or other animals, to disappear into the underwater scenery.
4. They Have Three Hearts
An octopus has three hearts; one pumps blood through its organs, while the other two pump blood through its gills. The systemic heart that delivers blood to the organs actually stops beating when the animal is swimming – explaining its penchant for crawling over swimming, which is far more exhausting. Speaking of blood…
5. They Have Blue Blood
They may not be royalty, but they have blue blood. In order to survive in the deep ocean, octopus blood developed a copper-based protein called hemocyanin that turns its blood blue. This copper base is more efficient at transporting oxygen when water temperatures are low and when oxygen supplies are limited.
6. They’re Playful
Yes, octopuses have been found to play with ‘toys’ and to have individual responses and temperaments! Anecdotes have shown that they’re indeed very curious and need stimulation, so don’t be surprised if you see them engage in what seems like ‘play’ on your next visit to an aquarium. Just be careful not to get too friendly with these sociable cephalopods, because…
7. They Pack Poison
All octopuses are believed to have some venom that’s generated from bacteria living inside the animals. Most of them don’t have enough of this poison to cause harm, but a small blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena) can paralyse a human adult and contains enough poison to kill 26 humans within minutes – woah, talk about packing a punch!