Did Paul the Mystic Octopus know something?

Football fans will still recall the life and times of Paul the Mystic Octopus (26th January 2008-26th  October 2010) the underwater inhabitant of Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany. Paul correctly called the results of four out of six of Germany’s matches in the Euro 2008 tournament and a whopping seven out of seven in the 2010 World Cup.

All luck? Aren’t invertebrates all supposed to be dim? Aren’t humans supposed to be the clever ones overall, while cetaceans like dolphins are the Einsteins of the seas? Well you may be in for a shock. According to philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey Smith, Cephalopods (octopuses, squid and cuttlefish) are:

“an island of mental complexity in the sea of invertebrate animals

Captive ones can squirt water to put out light bulbs or at people whom they dislike. They have as many neurons overall as dogs-or three year old children. Except theirs lie in diffuse nets across their whole bodies, rather than exclusively concentrated in brains as in vertebrates.

Intelligent writers like JBS Haldane and Isaac Asimov have hinted at the intellectual capacities of out eight-legged chums, but only now is it being properly followed up.   Here Philip Hoare reviews  Godfrey Smith’s book The Octopus-the evolution of intelligent life (William Collins 2017). Once again, has an evident truth been staring us in the face for hundreds of years?



we thank Dr SP Day of Norfolk for today’s story.

#octopus #cephalopod #intelligentlife #marineconservation

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