*Editors Note: Here is a much needed break from all the Holiday to-do, from our favorite randomly quirky guest blogger, Miss Beth.
The Veined Octopus (sexual connotations are welcome in the comments!), Latin name Amphioctopus marginatus, lives off the coast of Indonesia where the ocean floor is a vast muddy flat with little to offer in terms of safe shelter. To predators these animals are tasty treats with no bones to get in the way. The octopi have taken to collecting coconut halves and then scampering away with them to build shelters. This little guy has apparently almost caused many a scientist to almost drown from laughing (I can tell you from personal experience, laughing + several feet of water above you + scuba mask = not a good idea)!
Do you know what has eight legs, can carry and then MAKE a shelter? This guy!
They actually run or “stilt walk” while carrying the object, which has become coconut shells as of late due to human rate of consumption. The shells get tossed or deposited into the sea where they eventually sink. The halves make perfect shelters for the octopi as they can actually carry them under their bodies, coordinating thousands of suckers and eight legs. While it would actually be faster and less vulnerable for them to use their natural jet propulsion to escape predators, there is really nowhere for them to jet off to in their habitat. Which makes carrying the shelter a perfect adaptation.
“The coconut-carrying behavior makes the veined octopus the newest member of the elite club of tool-using animals—and the first member without a backbone”, researchers say. According to National Geographic. The reason this is tool usage and say, a hermit crab’s shell is not is because by definition a tool is something that is useless until used in a particular manner. A hermit crab carries his shell around with him all the time, giving him a constant use for it. The octopi carry the coconut halves (and apparently bits of glass, or any other object they deem appropriate) until it is needed. Think of when you bring your umbrella with you when you think it might rain; it provides no use until you open it and put it above your head. The umbrella, and the coconut shells provide “delayed benefits”, says scientist Julian Finn of Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia who has been observing these octopi regularly. The species is actually very bright, Other octopi have shown the ability to get through mazes, seem to remember past events and are known to be cunning escape artists.
About our stealthy guest blogger: Beth is the sole owner and member of The Z is Silent, a project to start an all inclusive arts space in Philadelphia. She envisions a completely modular space where artists can present visual, performing and any other kind of art in a space they themselves can help design and work with instead of in. However, Beth has no money. So, instead she fills her time writing nonsensical and whimsical musings for blogs like Chic Vegan and her own Atoms of Minutiae and being an office drone. She lives with her lovely boyfriend, his mustache, a cat and a dog.