Inside the Mind of the Octopus

Orion Magazine hat einen superfaszinierenden Artikel über Octopi und ihr Gehirn. Darin steht nicht viel neues, was regelmäßige NC-Leser nicht schon wissen würden (3/5 ihres Gehirns befindet sich in ihren Armen, sie können die Farbe wechseln und sich an Leute erinnern und wenn sie jemanden nicht leiden können, machen sie die nass, et cetera), bis auf: Wissenschaftler haben herausgefunden, wie Octopusse (wahrscheinlich) ihre Camo-Funktion benutzen. Ihre Hautzellen weisen Gen-Sequenzen auf, die man sonst nur auf der Retina im Auge findet. Mit anderen Worten: Die Viecher sehen mit ihrer Haut! Whoa!

“Meeting an octopus,” writes Godfrey-Smith, “is like meeting an intelligent alien.” Their intelligence sometimes even involves changing colors and shapes. One video online shows a mimic octopus alternately morphing into a flatfish, several sea snakes, and a lionfish by changing color, altering the texture of its skin, and shifting the position of its body. Another video shows an octopus materializing from a clump of algae. Its skin exactly matches the algae from which it seems to bloom—until it swims away.

For its color palette, the octopus uses three layers of three different types of cells near the skin’s surface. The deepest layer passively reflects background light. The topmost may contain the colors yellow, red, brown, and black. The middle layer shows an array of glittering blues, greens, and golds. But how does an octopus decide what animal to mimic, what colors to turn? Scientists have no idea, especially given that octopuses are likely colorblind.

But new evidence suggests a breathtaking possibility. Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and University of Washington researchers found that the skin of the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, a color-changing cousin of octopuses, contains gene sequences usually expressed only in the light-sensing retina of the eye. In other words, cephalopods—octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid—may be able to see with their skin.

Deep Intellect – Inside the mind of the octopus (via Reddit, Bild: Octopus dance – Octopus Vulgaris in Palma Aquarium von Morten Brekkevold)