Until now, scientists thought that the masters of camouflage and escape are solitary beings, but according to the latest studies, octopuses are quite social, after all. They might not live in clusters and show their social preferences to every diver that comes along, but the octopuses are quite social.
Researchers Deemed Them Solitary Animals, Until Now
Because of the fact that they were often seen alone, researchers deemed the octopuses solitary animals. Their skillful camouflage abilities and escape maneuvers that made even Harry Houdini jealous didn’t help them enter in the “social animal” category, either.
According To the Latest Studies, Octopuses Are Quite Social
But the preference for the solitude of the eight-tentacled cephalopods is just a myth. It seems that the multi-armed sea creatures do not use their color changing abilities only for hiding or scaring off potential predators. According to the latest studies, octopuses are quite social and they use their colors to communicate to each other.
Color Indicates Mood
The colors were not chosen by accident. The researchers found that when two octopuses met and they both showed hostile intentions to one another their color would change into a very dark shade, announcing the adversary that it is ready to attack.
When two or more octopuses did not want to engage in any physical violence but preferred to retreat they adopted a paler pallet of colors.
In order to reach these conclusions, Australian scientist filmed a native species of cephalopods, the Sydney octopus, or more commonly, the gloomy octopus. After studying the more than 52 hours of film, the researchers found that the Australian octopus is anything but gloomy, the group that was being filmed being involved in a great number of social interactions.
David Scheel, author of the study says that scientists were confused by the cannibalistic tendencies of the cephalopods and thought that there is no way social interactions could take place between individuals of the species. He also adds that the literature mentions signs of interactions, but previous researchers deemed them unimportant or considered them to be the same as the interactions between an octopus and a predator that got too close.
They Say Hello by Touching “Hands”
Among the notable interactions that the scientists observed in the 52 hours long footage is touching. It appears that the octopuses often liked to touch each other’s tentacles as a way of greeting one another. Another recurrent posture was standing tall while drawing its entire body upward and changing its color to a very dark shade. This meant that the standing octopus was threatening the other.
Scheel says that the study is far from being complete, the next step being the analysis of interactions between genders. For now, he is satisfied to have proven that octopuses are quite social.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org