Magazine article Natural History

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk

Magazine article Natural History

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk

Article excerpt

ADVANCED READERS The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Keith Ellenbogen; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015; 72 pages, $18.99

Offering a "different route to higher intelligence," octopi, not unlike people, are curious, intelligent, and emotional creatures, with creative problem-solving skills. Yet they possess strange characteristics, such as three hearts that pump blue blood; they can dramatically shiftshape and change color; and they boast "a baggy boneless body, eight sucker-laden arms attached to [the] head, a beak like a parrot, and venom like a snake." Octopus expert Jennifer Mather and her team searched the South Pacific waters near the island of Moorea, near Tahiti, to find octopi and study their hunting habits, with each scientist bringing a different focus: octopus personality, predator-prey dynamics, and the effect of the environment. …

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