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Aussie Scientists Find Coconut-Carrying Octopus

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the concealed-carry-in-australian-waters dept.

Science 205

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot. ... 'I was gobsmacked,' said Finn, a research biologist at the museum 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.'"

cancel ×

205 comments

Video (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447816)

From the BBC [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Video (2, Informative)

PenguinX (18932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448048)

There are apparently more videos on youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DoWdHOtlrk&feature=player_embedded# [youtube.com]

Re:Video (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448344)

There are apparently more videos on youtube

there are videos on youtube?!? i call bs.

Re:Video (1)

Prefader (1072814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448820)

Thanks for the link. That was also the first I've ever seen of the crow making its own tools (in the "related videos" links). Really interesting stuff.

Re:Video (2, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448848)

They may have the first video evidence, but I'm sure I've heard about octopodes using tools before, and Google turns up one [radthoughts.com] reference almost three years ago about a very similar case, and a 2008 paper [berkeley.edu] (PDF) which reports observation of octopus tool use and references a 1984 paper as describing certain octopus behaviour as probably tool use. I'm not sure from the Google Scholar description of this 1999 paper [elsevier.com] whether it refers to mention of octopus tool use in 1940 or in Roman times:

...
Historia, Liber IX, 48; Plinius Secundus, 1940) reported a description of tool-using behaviour ...

Perhaps someone with a subscription can check it out.

What do you mean? (5, Funny)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447824)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

Re:What do you mean? (5, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447940)

The Monty Python joke wasn't the first post on this story? Fail.

Re:What do you mean? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448884)

Or relief.

That people continue to regurgitate, verbatim, comedy from a troupe who's main claim to fame was spontaneous and original humour is the actual fail.

Re:What do you mean? (1)

svtdragon (917476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449214)

Yes, let's all regurgitate xkcd [xkcd.com] , instead.

Re:What do you mean? (1)

von_rick (944421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448904)

For all you know, it might be dressing up as the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the holiday party. With all those tentacles, the octopus doesn't have to worry about getting the costume for pasta part. All it needs is something that'd form the meatball part of its costume - thus the coconut.

Re:What do you mean? (3, Funny)

g3k0 (1697032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447946)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

What? I don't know that! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Re:What do you mean? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448260)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

Since it's working to provide itself with shelter and not receiving a welfare check, I'd hazard a guess that's it a European octopus.

Re:What do you mean? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448280)

Since it's working to provide itself with shelter and not receiving a welfare check, I'd hazard a guess that's it a European octopus.

What?

Re:What do you mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448436)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

Since it's working to provide itself with shelter and not receiving a welfare check, I'd hazard a guess that's it a European octopus.

Ah! I can tell this is going to be another one of those threads that will have to be browsed at -1, because that's where all the good comments will be!

Re:What do you mean? (0)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448438)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

Neither, it's Australian. I don't know if there's a joke for that, though.

Oh wait, "That's not a coconut 'ouse. THIS is a coconut house!"

Also, some kind of Steve Irwin impersonation.... "Cor blimey, Oi wish oi had one a them coconut 'alves protectin' me from that sting ray!"

Re:What do you mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448494)

Its got two halves of coconut and its pulling them together.

Re:What do you mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448500)

Are the scientists suggesting coconuts *migrate*?!

Indonesian octopi find tool using Aussie scientist (5, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448558)

JAKARTA (OP) - Indonesian octopi have discovered a scientist in Australia that uses rubber flippers on its feet for propulsion in water - unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of intelligence in a vertebrate animal.

Re:Indonesian octopi find tool using Aussie scient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448938)

JAKARTA (OP) - Indonesian octopi have discovered a scientist in Australia that uses rubber flippers on its feet for propulsion in water - unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of intelligence in a vertebrate animal.

In SOVIET RUSSIA, Flippers wear YOU!

So? (2, Funny)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448646)

Is it an African or a European octopus?

You've got two empty 'alves of an octopus and you're bangin' em together!

Re:What do you mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448812)

Australian ... no, Indonesian.

[Aaaaaaaugh!!!!]

But.... (3, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447866)

This is a temperate zone, the coconut's tropical.

Re:But.... (1)

sfled (231432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448132)

Obligatory "Coconut" [youtube.com] soundtrack for the above post.

Even more amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30447876)

Is Amphioctopus marginatus' use of a bamboo bicycle as a primitive generator.

Not only that .... (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447890)

These octopi were carrying the shells on their tippitty-toes and seemed to be dancing. To their amazement they found they were dancing to the tune of "I got a bubbly bunch of coconuts....dididi deedi dididi dee Here they are .. Big one Small One One as big as ..."

Re:Not only that .... (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449172)

But can they make a bra out of two?

Re:Not only that .... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449190)

Can someone explain to me why the coconut was carrying an octopus?

Ok... I'll do it. (4, Funny)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447894)

I for one welcome our quasi-migratory cephalopod overlords. The African Swallow has been sacked.

Re:Ok... I'll do it. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448568)

I had an african swallow once... once, then she went home.

Re:Ok... I'll do it. (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448680)

I for one welcome our quasi-migratory cephalopod overlords. The African Swallow has been sacked.

Of course. A swallow is not as clever as an octopus. It's only a birdbrain!

(I'm so sorry, I couldn't resist.)

African or European? (4, Funny)

Kyrene (624175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447896)

But supposing *two* octopuses (octopi?) carried it together!

Re:African or European? (2, Insightful)

xaositects (786749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448584)

no no, they'd have to have it on a line or something.

Re:African or European? (4, Funny)

eth1 (94901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448644)

octopuses (octopi?)

octopussies

Re:African or European? (1)

Kyrene (624175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448946)

I love it! So James Bond :D

Re:African or European? (0)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448684)

Octopodes if you want to be formal.

Re:African or European? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448944)

What if an octet of octopi carried it together?

Or perhaps they could enlist the help of squids for parity.

Re:African or European? (1)

dfetter (2035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449088)

"Octopodes" would be the correct plural if octopus were an ancient Greek word, but since it's not, octopuses is it. "Octopi" just makes you look both pretentious and ignorant at once, a feat which may cause people to think you're a libertarian. Avoid this fate.

Re:African or European? (1)

Kyrene (624175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449180)

+2 for the reference to Ancient Greek :)

Call me surprised.. (4, Funny)

fprintf (82740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447920)

This will be news when they find an African or European swallow doing the same thing.

I was gob smacked too! (2, Funny)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447922)

hurt like the dickens and I felt like I was going to cry, laugh, and trow up all at the same time too!

Re:I was gob smacked too! (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448990)

hurt like the dickens and I felt like I was going to cry, laugh, and trow up all at the same time too!

You found out your in-laws are coming for Christmas too eh?

Intelligent (3, Interesting)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447930)

I thought it was understood that octopi have primate-level intelligence. Why is this so surprising?

Re:Intelligent (5, Informative)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447988)

I once had a pet octopus. It was small about the size of a fist all curled up. It was always moving things around the tank and rebuilding his or her stone "house".

Re:Intelligent (2, Funny)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448704)

I once had a pet octopus. It was small about the size of a fist all curled up. It was always moving things around the tank and rebuilding his or her stone "house".

Aw, that's cute... Just like bunnies!

Re:Intelligent (4, Insightful)

zippyspringboard (1483595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448004)

Because it shows them using this intelligence in the wild, in a natural setting, presumably without human prompting. It's probably not surprising at all to those who study them, but science tends to demand evidence....

Re:Intelligent (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448076)

Indeed, they were originally designed to carry such items 6000 years ago.

Re:Intelligent (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448368)

I knew it was understood that they were extremely smart for invertebrates, but consensus that they were primate-level (rather than a few outliers suggesting that) is news to me.

Why it's surprising was described in the summary: "first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal"

Re:Intelligent (4, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448462)

I thought it was understood that octopi have primate-level intelligence. Why is this so surprising?

In the same sense that it's understood that Russels Teapot is filled with Earl Gray rather than Darjeeling.

It's widely accepted that octopuses are probably more intelligent than any other invertebrates. That's a long way from putting them on the same level as primates.

Re:Octopi (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448878)

You can't be allowed to say Octopi on slashdot without the inevitable reply from homo pedanticus. The correct english plural of Octopus is Octopusses. In the erroneous belief that Octopus derives from Latin, it is often pluralized as Octopi, but in fact it comes from the Greek, so the pluralization would be Octopodes, except that that would seem overly pedantic. Therefore the correct pluralization of Octopus for the pedantic and for others is Octopusses.

Evidence of considerable cleverness... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447962)

Luckily for us, octopuses live underwater, so they won't have the chance to develop the use of fire, and are nonsocial and fairly short lived, so they won't have the chance to pass on knowledge from one to another.

Were it not for that, we would probably be fighting for our lives against the many-legged hordes of the deep.

Re:Evidence of considerable cleverness... (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448216)

Are you sure you're not describing slashdotters?

Re:Evidence of considerable cleverness... (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448800)

Yes. Slashdotters rather shun water.

Re:Evidence of considerable cleverness... (5, Funny)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449208)

What you say is true until Cthulhu rises again.

So long, and thanks for all the coconuts. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447972)

I, for one, welcome our new fusion-powered [hplusmagazine.com] cephalords.

i think.. (1)

mxh83 (1607017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447976)

I think such a post would be better posted / discussed at a place like digg. Very little of the slashdot audience cares about octopuses and coconuts.

Durrrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448254)

Even less of us give a fuck about your opinion.

Copulate with a donkey.

vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30447982)

Octopuses and their relatives have been surprising researchers for quite a while. They can show some remarkable intelligence. Us vertebrates have competition. The squishy ones have brains too.

They have a partially-decentralized brain, which makes for some interesting potential multi-core sci-fi: Planet of the Squids kind of stuff. And if they ever learn to type, they'll be four times more productive than us, maybe even more if a suction-cup-friendly keyboard/mouse is invented :-)

Re:vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448136)

There was a really scary show on Animal Planet the other day showing how squid were having an population boom and were spreading up the coast of California. Unlike sharks which for the most part ignore people, the squid actively attacked people.

You tube clips. [youtube.com]

Re:vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448248)

Overfishing will do that. If we remove all the fish, non-vertebrates are happy to take over newly-exposed niches. Jellyfish are also enjoying a boom. New and different problems are on their way...

Re:vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448400)

At least squid is relatively delicious too.

Re:vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (1, Informative)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448658)

That's cuz squid are mean little bitches.

Re:vertebracentricity, and 8-arm outsourcing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448556)

Us vertebrates have competition

Apparently they're already more advanced than we at grammar.

:-)

Look at it walk! (3, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448020)

That is so weird. You don't associate walking with an octopus, but that's exactly what it did... tuck the shell under it's body, and then scamper across the seabed using its tentacles like legs.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448028)

'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.'"

Mark my words.The octopus-coconut elevator will happen about 10 years after everyone stops laughing.

Failzor5.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448046)

Not funny? (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448112)

'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.'"

Why would you try not to laugh? Afraid of hurting the octo's feelings?

Re:Not funny? (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448386)

Why would you try not to laugh? Afraid of hurting the octo's feelings?

While he may be a perfectly sensitive, metrosexual kind of guy, the immediate problem is that he was diving with SCUBA gear. Full out ROTFL in a SCUBA set can be a bit problematic. Deep gasps of water can ruin your day.

Re:Not funny? (2, Funny)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448468)

Why would you try not to laugh? Afraid of hurting the octo's feelings?

While he may be a perfectly sensitive, metrosexual kind of guy, the immediate problem is that he was diving with SCUBA gear. Full out ROTFL in a SCUBA set can be a bit problematic. Deep gasps of water can ruin your day.

Feh! He obviously has inferior equipment! He obviously needs a ROFL-capable set of SCUBA gear!

Re:Not funny? (1)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449066)

Now THIS deserves some "Funny" mod points!

Re:Not funny? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449268)

I propose that the researchers pursue a grant for a LOLmarine for safer undersea research.

Re:Not funny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448478)

well the guy then could have said that he almost died laughing

Re:Not funny? (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448564)

Full out ROTFL in a SCUBA set can be a bit problematic. Deep gasps of water can ruin your day.

To be fair, one is very unlikely to be ROTFL in SCUBA gear. Far more likely is to be FITDL (Flailing In The Deep Laughing).

Especially so if you screw up the gas mixture in your tank.

Re:Not funny? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448816)

Standard SCUBA is plain air, just compressed. For very deep or deeper and longer dives, you can get certified to do mixed gas diving where it is a mix of helium and oxygen instead of nitrogen and oxygen - avoids nitrogen narcossis and the bends.

Re:Not funny? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448410)

Why would you try not to laugh? Afraid of hurting the octo's feelings?

Afraid of losing control of his air regulator and swallowing a lot of seawater.

Re:Not funny? (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448480)

One of the researchers, Dr Julian Finn from Australia's Museum Victoria, told BBC News: "I almost drowned laughing when I saw this the first time."

Does that make it more clear? It's hard to laugh and use SCUBA equipment simultaneously. :)

Re:Not funny? (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448774)

Well, you definitely don't want to piss off an octopus that smart.

Give Ginger and MaryAnn a big hug (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448146)

It's The Professor, he's been reincarnated! Now he can finish that coconut-shell nuclear reactor that Gilligan kept breaking.

Not suprising (2, Informative)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448294)

On a trip to Florida, I found a neat clump of shells in shallow water. I picked it up and put it in a bucket along with some other shells thinking it was interesting. A few moments later I had a pile of shells and an octopus looking up at me angrily. So if it's smart enough to roll itself in shells, using it's suckers to keep them on, it’s not too surprising to me that these ones decided to use coconuts.

Funny thing is that split coconuts probably aren't too common unless people or animals split them.

Octopus & the Goldfish (4, Interesting)

Mr_Blank (172031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448320)

This reminds me of the story I have been telling for years whenever someone asks me why I do not eat Octopus.

From Snopes [snopes.com]

A while back I heard a story that went like this: in a certain aquarium, fish kept disappearing from one of the tanks late at night. Baffled, the staff put up cameras to find out what was going on, and discovered that an octopus was climbing out of its tank, eating the fish, then crawling back to its own tank.

Though the story is not verified, directly, there is consensus that the story is possible and is even likely to have occurred.

Re:Octopus & the Goldfish (2, Funny)

dm0527 (975468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448966)

I can't think of a better reason to eat the little fish thief...

Re:Octopus & the Goldfish (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448986)

It's quite common actually. Many researchers who work with octupi have to make sure that they stay in their tanks. They are quite strong and they can figure out ways of getting out of their tanks.

Re:Octopus & the Goldfish (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449216)

I don't understand. What does that story have to do with your willingness to eat octopus?

Ob xkcd reference (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448322)

Oh no, run for your lives! They're preparing the coconut cannon!
http://xkcd.com/520/ [xkcd.com]

Tool (-1, Flamebait)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448324)

A veined octopus using tools? My one-armed veined octopus IS my tool

3 hour tour (-1, Offtopic)

flahwho (1243110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448346)

Gilligan likes Maryann's coconuts.

The Australian Octopus is non-migratory! (0, Redundant)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448432)

A European one, maybe.

I for one welcome... (4, Funny)

Patrick Manderson (1403265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448560)

I for one welcome our undersea, coconut wielding, overlords.

There's been a few documentaries on the Discovery channel where they've not only mention how intelligent they were, but even suggested they might have emotions.

Re:I for one welcome... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448748)

Cthulhu is not impressed.

Hermit Crab? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448630)

So it is trying to pretend it is a hermit crab.

Re:Hermit Crab? (1)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448890)

Either that or it's pretending it's a nautilus [wikipedia.org] . Octopi are relatives (same class, Cephalopoda) of nautiluses, which are the only extant cephalopods with an external shell...that's secreted by the animal and not made of coconut.

Mmmmm, Tasty (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448650)

You put the lime in the coconut and get octopus ceviche. The you feel better, etc, etc.

CLIP CLOP (2, Funny)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448694)

He was using them to make the CLIP-CLOP sound effect for the new theater play his "School" is putting on. The Headless Sea Horse.

i call shenanigans (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448700)

everyone knows squidward lives in a tikihead

Re:i call shenanigans (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448846)

I know, I'm still waiting to see the clarinet footage.

Isn't there a cartoon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30448702)

Who lives with a coconut under the sea...

Laugh while you can. (5, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448798)

'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.'"

You're laughing now. Just wait until Cthulhu returns.

Re:Laugh while you can. (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449068)

You're laughing now. Just wait until Cthulhu returns.

That's Cocotulhu to you.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn (5, Funny)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#30448814)

I'a! I'a! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30449036)

it's not a question of where he grips it...
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