The Prescience of Octopi

Going by the hoo-ha, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the past few days have been declared April Fool’s Week by the international press. Sure, make paella of Paul with lemon juice- football teams have been losing matches because an octopus lurking in a watery box somewhere feels the urge to have a particular mussel over the other one. Damn that insidious octopus sniggering in his tank! There could be no possible connection with, say, the skill of a team. Or plain old luck. Or incidental things like training, speed or strategy. Should the winning team consider their win pre-ordained and therefore not much credit to them, and the losing team consider that the fates stitched them up?

"Archibald just wanted to be left alone to hide under his coconut shells in peace. He failed to understand what the blinking fuss was all about."

Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Wikimedia Commons

Octopuses (octopi??- anybody?) are controversial in a vastly different circle as well. Without meaning to insult its humble relative, the common garden slug, let me just say- congrats, octopi- you really made it out of that evolutionary bucket! The average octopus is supposed to be the smartypants of the ocean. On the one hand, they’ve been snapped pouncing on coconut shells and scuttling off with them at a clippy pace. You see, the coconut shell is the go-to body armour for your average octopus. Apparently they like to get double shells so they can sit inside. Check out the amazing video here of an octopus legging it with his precious shell. Then they’re supposed to be escape artists par extraordinaire- octopus Sid from New Zealand took escaping to a fine art. On the other hand you have other researcheres who say that we think the octopus is smarter than it is because its intelligence is of a different nature to human intelligence. The markers that we think are smart (such as using tools like coconut shells) are smart in our book but not necessarily for the invertebrate brain. 

Excuse me, but using tools should qualify as smart in any book! Let alone eat them alive, you’ve got to respect that sort of intelligence.. No cultural judgment; they would get eaten alive in the wild. But I doubt they would be kept alive by a natural predator so that someone could have the dubious thrill of eating them alive.

Personally, I stopped eating octopus many years ago when I was served a bowl of spaghetti with a whole baby octopus perched on top, looking at me with mournful eyes. Yes, weak stomach, that’s me.



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2 responses to “The Prescience of Octopi

  1. drila

    Hm… Even I am not rather fond of having squid…. My dad and I just adore Paul the Octopus!!

  2. dev anand

    ha…ha funny as always…:) agree completely

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