Monday, July 4, 2011

The Mollusk That Uses Tools
This is the veined octopus, Amphioctus marginatus, and it is a mollusk.

What this basically means is that this soft bodied creature, equipped with three hearts and blood that uses copper instead of iron to transport oxygen, is more closely related to snails and clams than it is to you or any other vertebrate.

This simple fact is what makes this small octopod's behavior so amazing.

You see, this remarkable creature uses tools.
Dwelling in the sandy bottoms of bays and lagoons along the western Pacific Ocean, this baseball sized cephalopod is a voracious hunter. Unfortunately, it is also a tender, soft bodied snack for any larger predator that comes along.

So what does this remarkable little guy do? He gathers up discarded coconut shells and other similar debris, sometimes carrying individual pieces as far as 65 feet.

Then he carefully arranges them into a well built shelter where he can hide with confidence.
How awesome is that? Such behavioral and cognitive complexity in a creature that doesn't even have a spinal cord and only lives for two years just blows my mind.

Just think, it was only a few decades ago that scientists discovered that chimpanzees use tools, and now we're finding that even invertebrates are capable of such feats.

These truly are exciting times, and as humans probe deeper into the minds of our fellow species I can only hope we develop a greater respect and appreciation for the life that surrounds us.


  1. Hi Jason!

    Your images are wonderful and fascinating.Yesterday I and a friend was at an amusement park in Sweden and we saw a 3D-movie about a turtle and his friend surviving a lot of danger situations, very exciting! The underwater world is amazing.

  2. I guess that tells us that bone structure isn't a measure of intelligence. I've always wondered about such creatures as the porpoise, and the various whales.

  3. creatures have intelligence..and the octopus proves it, but it is only the tip of the iceberg of what we know..great article..