We explain what the octopus is, what its anatomy is like and where this animal lives. Also, what are its features, playback and more.
What is an Octopus?
An invertebrate marine animal, family of molluscs , is known as an octopus , which totally lacks a skeleton: either internal (such as vertebrates ) or external (such as molluscs , which have a shell).
The octopuses constitute the order of the octopods (from the Greek octo , "eight", and podós , "feet") , so called because they have eight mobile extremities with which they can swim, protect themselves or capture their prey , since the octopus is a predator
It is the most intelligent mollusk known , whose variety of species ranges from small specimens (less than 15 cm) to huge specimens (some can be around 9 meters).
The behavior of the octopus has attracted the attention of the human being since it was able to explore underwater life, especially due to its mimetic capacity , that is, imitation.
The skin cells of the octopus have pigments called chromatophores , whose function is to change the color and appearance of the animal instantly when it is in dangerous situations, or to maximize its chances in the hunt.
This imitative capacity can achieve amazing behaviors, as in the case of the mimic octopus or Thaumoctopus mimicus .
The body of every octopus is divided into three clearly differentiated regions:
- Head. In which the eyes of the octopus are found and which contains its brain (a nervous set) and its hearts (three of them: two to carry blood to the gills and breathe, another to push oxygenated blood to the rest of the body).
- Mantle. The diffuse region that connects the extremities to the head, where the rest of the animal's viscera are located and from which a horny beak emerges to feed, a siphon with which to expel water to propel itself, and a urine deposit.
- Extremities. The eight tentacles of the octopus are strong and muscular, provided with suckers on the inner side and millions of sensory endings. Each tentacle is connected to the mantle and head, as it has a direct nerve connection to a highly developed brain that depends on the main one, giving it amazing separate control of its limbs.
Octopuses exist in virtually every ocean , especially in coral reefs and other regions that provide them with easy hiding places and a good flow of smaller animals to feed on.
They inhabit both warm and temperate waters , at different depths and adapted to different predation strategies, although they tend to change their immediate environment every two or three weeks.
Breeding octopuses in captivity is difficult and usually reduces the life expectancy of the animal, which, on the other hand, is very good at escaping in the most unlikely conditions. That is why other animal species are usually preferred for breeding, such as squid.
Octopuses are basically omnivorous : they can eat anything from small fish , other mollusks, and small crustaceans , to algae .
To do this they usually entangle their prey in their tentacles and take it to the horny beak with which they tear it apart. Octopuses are essentially predators.
The octopus is known to be one of the most intelligent marine animals : either to solve problems, prepare ambushes or even imitate other marine species (both in color, appearance and behavior) to go unnoticed.
Some species of octopus are capable of mimicking up to 15 different species , of which they know by mere observation .
This however does not mean that the octopus has a large brain. In contrast, its brain is the size of a bird's , but it operates as a nervous bundle through smaller "brains" in charge of controlling each tentacle, so that the entire animal possesses amazing neural connection and sensory capabilities. .
This allows you, for example, to perform several tasks simultaneously and independently, or to coordinate your limbs to perform a complex operation simultaneously.
The octopus also has a highly developed vision , which together with an amazing sense of touch , allows it to make very intelligent decisions.
Octopuses are sexual beings, that is, there are males and there are females . The males fertilize the females by introducing their third right arm into their body, which is not really a tentacle but a reproductive organ called hectocotylus with which they can introduce the spermatophores that fertilize her into the female.
The female will then be able to retreat to her cave and lay her eggs (about 150,000) in the form of a cluster. During the following month it will remain there protecting them, without even feeding, until verifying the hatching and the birth of the young.
Predator and Prey
The octopus is a great marine predator but it is also prey to the appetite of larger and more dangerous marine creatures such as large fish, moray eels, eels and even sharks.
Other marine mammals , such as dolphins, otters or seals, make octopus their food . Humans also catch octopuses to eat them.
Among its strategies to avoid being devoured, the octopus has its intelligence , its ability to disguise, but also black ink deposits that it can emit in the water when it feels threatened, obscuring the senses of its attacker.
Other species have even developed a venomous bite , as is the case with the genus Hapalochlaena , the blue-ringed octopus whose bite can kill a man in just over an hour.
The octopus's ability to imitate is due to the fact that its skin is a perfect camouflage mechanism , sensitive to the environment and capable not only of altering its colors and visual patterns, but also of wrinkling or smoothing itself and thus reproducing the texture of the environment.
On a rocky floor , the octopus will appear rough and rough, while in a grid pool it will look smooth and reproduce the pattern.
Exactly how the visual information from the environment is picked up by the animal's eyes and sent to the skin , which then reproduces it, is something that still puzzles many specialists.
It is known, however, that the skin of the octopus has millions of nerve endings in addition to the chromatophores necessary to change color.
The octopus is considered a delicacy in many coastal cuisines and is part of numerous dishes in different regions of the planet .
Its fishing is usually produced by means of pots or mesh boxes that are introduced into the sea at night and are left the right time for the octopus to enter them. The hatch is then closed and they are removed from the water.
Octopus cooking is challenging, as its meat has a tendency to toughen and become chewy if not cooked properly. However, its meat is rich in vitamins , magnesium , phosphorus, potassium and has a very low cholesterol level. Its tentacles are usually the main dish.
The Octopus in Culture
The octopus is an animal that is very present in human culture and not only as food. It is known of pictorial representations of the octopus in ancient Mediterranean cultures , as well as in mythologies of fishing peoples, such as the Hawaiian.
In modern culture, the octopus makes a presence, especially because of its tentacles, in stories of maritime explorations such as those of Jules Verne in which the gigantic Kraken sank entire ships that it wrapped in its arms.
In some 19th-century Japanese woodcuts by artist Katsushika Hokusai, titled "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife," octopuses even appear to have sex with her.
Octopuses are assumed to have arisen, along with the other cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish, and nautiluses), about 500 million years ago , long before plants even moved onto dry land.
Just like the squid (whose cap is an evolutionary vestige), these animals lost their initial mollusk shell over the centuries , adapting to an agile and fast life outside of them.
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