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"Argonaut" Octopus Sucks Air Into Shell as Ballast

audiovideodisco (1232992) writes | more than 4 years ago

Science 0

audiovideodisco (1232992) writes "Even among octopuses, the Argonaut must be one of the coolest. It gets its nickname—"paper nautilus"—from the fragile shell the female assembles around herself after mating with the tiny male (whose tentacle/penis breaks off and remains in the female). For millennia, people have wondered what the shell was for; Aristotle thought the octopus used it as a boat and its tentacles as oars and sails.

Now scientists who managed to study Argonauts in the wild confirm a different hypothesis: that the octopus sucks air into its shell and uses it for ballast as it weaves its way through the ocean like a tiny submarine. The researchers' beautiful video and photographs show just how the Argonaut pulls off this trick. The regular (non-paper) nautilus also uses its shell for ballast, but the distant relationship between it and all octopuses suggests this is a case of convergent evolution."

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