On a warm summer night in 2016, an octopus named Inky slipped out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and scuttled across the floor to a 164-foot drain pipe that delivered him into the Pacific Ocean and worldwide fame. The story of Inky’s midnight escape went viral.
Some thought Inky planned his escape, waiting until humans weren’t around and entered that drainage pipe with full awareness that sweet freedom was at the end of it. That’s not necessarily so; he may have been driven by simple curiosity or perhaps the smell of seawater. Yet, there are volumes of information about the intelligence and problem solving abilities of cephalopods. This group is unique in their invertebrate evolution in may ways, including that they have more neurons in their arms than in their brains. This gives each arm the ability to smell, taste, think and move independently of each other.
But just how smart are they? Well, they have been known to eat fish from adjacent tanks in captivity and return back to their tanks before anyone notices. Some have been observed making tools out of coconut shells, using rocks as weapons, and jumping out of the water to ambush prey. Still other observations show them mimicking other dangerous sea creatures in various colors, shapes, textures and movement. And they can open jars from the outside and the inside. There is evidence that they can learn tasks just from watching, and they can recognize individual human faces.
All things considered, it’s at least possible that Inky planned his escape. 🦑
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