December 17, 2009

Tool-use in invertebrates: Octopuses go coo-coo for coconuts!





Following up on Chris' great post about ocean-life, I wanted to share an amazing video that came to me through our pals at Center for Biological Diversity.

Australian scientists have discovered, and documented, an Indonesian species of octopus that uses coconut shells as a means of shelter and protection from predators.

The veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, was observed searching out coconuts, which it then cleaned out, carried some distance and assembled to make a protective spherical hiding place.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria observed this behavior four times. Finn comments: "I was gobsmacked. 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."
(Skip to 0:50 to see this in action, and try your best not to laugh too!)

These findings constitute an important and truly incredible discovery, as tool use has never before been recorded in invertebrates.

After reviewing the findings, Simon Robson, associate professor of tropical biology at James Cook University, made this inspiring comment, that speaks well to my feelings about this discovery too:

"It's another example where we can think about how similar humans are to the rest of the world. We are just a continuum of the entire planet."

Will wonders never cease?

Nature is so vast and intricate, I suspect they never will!

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