Octopuses are really amazing. Their intelligence is admirable. Their brain is formed by 500 million large neurons (the human brain consists of roughly 100 billion small neurons), which made people think that octopuses had an intelligence comparable with that of a cat. But the difference is big – when a cat learns how to open a door, it has to do it by watching many times somebody else doing it. While an octopus can learn how to open a plug of a bottle by pure “conceptual thinking”, just like humans.
All scuba divers know how curious octopuses can be, which is clear sign of intelligence. But not only are these animals curious, they also have another trait commonly associated with intelligent beings – they play. When researchers gave two octopuses an empty tank and a floating pill bottle, the animals blew a jet of water at the pill bottle, which caused it to go over a water jet in the tank and come back to the octopus. The animals repeated this action more than 20 times, which resembled very much the activity of bouncing a ball.
The skill we most associate with octopuses is the mimetic ability. They not only imitate the color, but also the texture. For example they can mimic a stone covered by algae so well, that it can hurl itself over its victim that does not even realize what’s going on. This way they can also escape from predators, like seals.
A maybe less known ability, but equally impressive is that they can change body shape to escape traps. The only solid part of an octopus’s body is its cartilaginous “skull”. So, if a hole allows the passing of the skull, the octopus will pass too. This ability causes many troubles in aquariums, but is of utmost importance to the animal. We can admire its usefulness in this video, where an octopus was caught together with fish and remained on a boat. She quickly found a scupper, which is a 2 inch gap. She managed to escape through that tiny area, which is another example of how incredible these animals are.