FIFA World Cup: Discover the Wonders of the Octopus

FIFA World Cup

FIFA World Cup fans have discovered that one of the most wonderful and fascinating animals is the eight-legged, ink-squirting cephalopod known as the octopus. Used as a prediction method, Regina the octopus was in charge this year of predicting the outcome of Germany’s matches for the FIFA World Cup.

As a mysterious and fascinating creature, there are many facts about the octopus that, while mostly unknown, may prove to be rather interesting. Having been documented as first appearing towards the last days of the Cretaceous period (the final dinosaur era) there are, reportedly, 289 species of octopus. A few notable types of octopuses (or octopi – both plural sayings are correct) are that of the vast North Pacific Giant Octopus that averages about 10 feet in length, the small blue-ringed octopus which is noted as the only type that is poisonous to humans, and the itty-bitty Argonaut Octopus which can measure as small as 0.8 inches long.

Octopuses are extremely intelligent animals. They actually have their own array of emotions and can connect and develop relationships with humans just like a domesticated animal. Their intelligence level is said to be similar to apes. Octopuses display “conceptual thinking” by solving problems on their own, such as pulling a cap off a bottle to reach a tasty crustacean inside. Animals like cats and dogs would need a repetitive visual displayed by a human to solve something similar like opening a door by turning the knob.

The octopus is a master of disguise, putting the abilities of a chameleon to shame. They contain a great many starred pigment cells in their skin which strengthen with age. This allows them to blend into the color palatte of their surroundings. Being that they are incredible malleable beings, they also have the ability to mimic the shape of their environment. An example would include creating the facade of an algae-covered stone which allows for easy escape from predators and excellent camouflage for hunting prey. They also squirt clouds of black ink from jets attached to their heads to distract their enemies, temporarily blinding them, all so the octopus can retreat to safety.

An octopus’s diet consists mainly of crustaceans, like crabs and lobsters, and mollusks, such as clams, small squids and cuttlefish. The more sizable specimens have also been known to feast on a great variety of fish (including sharks, believe it or not).

The FIFA World Cup viewers discovered a new wonder of the octopus when Regina demonstrated the incredible malleability these creatures possess by suctioning about Germany’s performance predictions. Octopuses have no internal bone structure and no shell on the outside. The only solid parts of an octopus are its cartilaginous “skull” and its small, parrot-like beak. The skull is found within the round head-shaped part of the octopus and its beak is found underneath the head, in the center of its eight tentacles. Since these small body parts are the only hard parts of the animal, it has the ability to squeeze its way through any hole or crevice that the skull and beak can fit through. This proves to be a problem when keeping an octopus as a pet in an aquarium because they often try to escape!

The most intriguing features of the octopus are its eight tentacles. Each tentacle has hundreds of suction cups on the underside of the arm which are used not only for catching prey, but for smelling and feeling as well. The third tentacle on the right of a male octopus is actually his penis. The technical term for an octopus penis is “hectocotylus” and can actually detach from the male. The mating of octopuses can last up to two hours and occurs when the male places his hectocotylus into the female’s gill cavity, deposing small pouches that are filled with millions of sperm cells. The male loses his hectocotylus when mating occurs, but regenerates it for the next mating season to come.

As those who watched Germany’s predictions in the FIFA World Cup discovered, octopuses prove to have vast amounts of wonderful traits. The intelligence and productivity displayed by the octopus is remarkable and will continue to astonish many who learn of its wonders.

By Cody Collier

National Geographic
Indian Express

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