Tool-Using Octopus: Coconut Shells Become Body Armor

By Brett Israel | December 14, 2009 6:30 pm

We should probably stop being amazed at the things octopuses can do and just accept that they’re just unfathomably cool (pun fully intended). Case in point: The veined octopus totes around coconut shells that it then hides in. Check out the footage, courtesy of Australia’s Museum Victoria:

In another video on YouTube that Ed Yong features in his post on Not Exactly Rocket Science, a coconut-clad octopus is strolling along the ocean floor on two tentacles and doing a pretty good job of disguising itself as a rolling coconut.

So what’s the big deal? Well, as Yong points out, the veined octopus uses the coconut shells as actual tools and is able to deploy them as needed. Unlike hermit crabs that live inside their body armor, the veined octopus only uses its armor when it senses danger. It’s able to seal itself inside a hollow coconut husk using its suckers to hold two halves of a shell in place.

Because it has the foresight to carry around the components of a make-shift panic room, this means the octopus is even smarter than originally believed. Scientists are now discovering that some marine invertebrates possess abilities once thought to be reserved for humans.

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Video: Museum Victoria

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