How Smart Are Octopuses?

Scientists have long documented the ability of octopuses to solve mazes, complete tasks, and, at least in the short term, remember what they have learned. Billye, a giant Pacific octopus living at the Seattle Aquarium, amazed her handlers one day by figuring out how to open a container with a childproof safety cap in less than an hour. But Billye's accomplishment is not entirely unique -- in the 1950s, Jacques Cousteau found that octopuses were even able to remove corks from bottles.

Octopuses are not dumb mollusks, by any means. Relative to their body weight, octopuses and cuttlefish have larger brains than most fish and reptiles.

Facts about the clever cephalopod:

  • Octopuses are among an elite group of intelligent animals that have been observed using tools. The group includes chimpanzees, dolphins, and crows.
  • Octopuses can change color in just three-tenths of a second, often resembling undersea objects such as plants or rocks in order to blend in with the environment.
  • A common octopus has about 240 suckers on each limb, and a large sucker can hold as much as 35 pounds (16 kg).
More Info: Discover

Discussion Comments


They can also get out of any container that has the slightest of gaps. Their ability to go thin is amazing. I don't know why people eat them.

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