Octopuses: "They're aliens alive on our planet and it feels like they have plans.” This handout photo provided by Roy L. Caldwell shows a LPSO male A15 canteleve large Pacific striped octopus about to catch a shrimp. Shifting shapes, sporting mesmerizing eyes, and showing uncanny intelligence, the octopus already is an oddball of the ocean. Now biologists have re-discovered a species of that sea creature that shares some of our social and mating habits. (Roy L. Caldwell via AP)
Octopuses: "They're aliens alive on our planet and it feels like they have plans.”
Lexile

The octopus already is an oddball of the ocean. Now biologists have rediscovered a species of that eight-arm sea creature that's even stranger and shares some of our habits.
 
With their shifting shapes, mesmerizing eyes and uncanny intelligence, octopuses "are one of the most mysterious and captivating species," said Rich Ross, a senior biologist at the California Academy of Sciences. "They're aliens alive on our planet and it feels like they have plans."
 
For Ross and colleagues, it got stranger when they got a batch of octopuses from Central America to study. The critters just didn't fit the loner denizen-of-the-deep profile that scientists had drawn for the rest of the 300 or so octopus species.
 
Most octopuses live alone, although couples of this species can live together to mate for a few days in the same cramped den or shell.
 
While other females lay one batch of eggs and then die, the female of this species lives longer and produces eggs constantly, bettering the species chance of survival, Ross said.
 
But there's more to the species. These octopuses clean out food waste from their dens. They twirl their arms like an old-timey movie villain with a moustache. And they quickly learn that people mean food: when someone enters the room, they leave their dens and head to the top of the tank.
 
"It's the most amazing octopus that I've ever gotten to work with," Ross said.
 
The octopus, normally a dull chocolate brown, suddenly sports stripes and spots when it gets excited or upset, said Roy Caldwell of the University of California, Berkeley. He is the lead author of a paper on the octopus, which Ross and others published in the journal PLOS One.
 
The species is preliminarily called the Larger Pacific Striped Octopus, although it's really not much bigger than a tennis ball - just bigger than a similar species.
 
It was found almost 40 years ago off the coast of Panama. Other scientists wouldn't believe it was a separate species or that it showed such distinctive behavior. So its discoverer, Arcadio Rodaniche, gave up and the species was never formally described or named.
 
Then in 2011, Caldwell got an email from a high school student about his pet octopus, Charlie. It was the same species discovered in the 1970s. Caldwell traced it to a dealer who sent him two-dozen of the species from Panama, Nicaragua and Mexico to study in captivity. The researchers note that this octopus species could act differently in the wild.
 
They included Rodaniche as a co-author after the retired researcher declined to let them name the octopus species after him.
 
In the journal Nature, a different team of scientists published the first map decoding octopus genes. They found the octopus's genetic code is only slightly smaller than humans, but twice as big as a bird's genetic instruction guide.
 
Octopuses are invertebrates, meaning they have no backbones. Invertebrates generally have a less evolved nervous systems, but not the octopus. They found that it had many of the same genes as other invertebrates, although mixed up as through a blender, said study author Clifton Ragsdale at the University of Chicago.
 
"There's a lot of weird creatures and these are the largest of the weird creatures," he said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why might this same species act differently in the wild?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (14)
  • p1-haily-pen
    8/24/2015 - 09:26 a.m.

    The same species may act differently in the wild if the habitat is a lot different, which it is. If these animals were in the wild they'd probably adapt to eating different things, that are not as common as they would be fed as a pet. These octopuses may be eaten by lots of other things in the ocean, considering they are the size of a tennis ball.

  • laurenc-bag
    8/25/2015 - 06:06 p.m.

    This same species might act differently in the wild because of their habits in the wild. They go to cramped spaces to mate and most likely find food on their own. Some of the octopuses are probably now used to being fed by humans.

  • laurenc-bag
    8/25/2015 - 06:06 p.m.

    They also would have more freedom to do what they want to do.

  • eliset-bag
    8/26/2015 - 07:02 p.m.

    I think that the same species might act differently in the wild because they have different feelings one of them might be having the happiest day ever, and one might be having the worst day. I think it just depends on how the day is going.

  • lilym-1-bag
    8/26/2015 - 11:38 p.m.

    I think that is a possibility and it seems very true to me.

  • treya-bag
    8/27/2015 - 12:20 a.m.

    they might act differently because they may have more room out in the wild then in a tank. so that might affect their mood.

  • richard-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:11 a.m.

    I think that the discovery of this new species could be a breakthrough in the science of genetics and could help scientist's in the future.

  • andrew-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:12 a.m.

    I know that octopuses aren't really aliens, but in a way, they sort of do look like aliens. The reason that people think that octopuses are aliens is because they have 8 long tentacles and a big head. But the truth is, octopuses are actually vertebrates.

  • ty-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:24 a.m.

    That is bogas for them to think that the squid is an alien

  • padmos,victoria-cas
    9/09/2015 - 11:53 a.m.

    1. The same species might act differently in different habitats because they are accustomed to different circumstances. For example, if an animal is kept in captivity, they will be adjusted to the given feeding schedule. If another animal lived in the wild, they would have to learn to feed themselves on their own schedule. Therefor, if two of the same species were kept in different locations and habitats, they might act differently.
    2. I enjoyed this article a lot. I found it very interesting to learn that new species of animals are being discovered, especially if they have human like features.

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