Liberal Arts Blog — The Octopus — “Einsteins of the Deep”

Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day

Today’s Topic — the Octopus — “Einsteins of the Deep”

Did you know that the octopus has three hearts? blue blood? can squeeze through a hole the size of human eye? propel itself at 25 mph? has the highest brain-to-body mass of any invertebrate? that most of its neurons are in its arms? can solve complex problems and bond with humans? spend 40% of their very short lives living in dens? These are truly amazing creatures of the deep and I can’t wait to learn more. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, and elucidate.

SIZE, LOCATION, LIFE SPAN

1. Size: can be as small as an inch weighing roughly one gram to as large as 165 lbs and an arm span of 14 feet. (Their cousins, the giant squid, can be as long as 60 feet.)

2. Location: extremely wide range of habitats from near the shore to the deep ocean — from “intertidal zones” to “pelagic zones.” They inhabit every ocean in the world. And are consumed by humans from Greece to Mauritius to Japan, Hawaii and the United States.

3. Life span — short. A kind of sad story. The males die soon after impregnating the female. Then mom dies as soon as she hatches her eggs. They may be smart but the kids can’t learn from their parents. They are all pretty much orphans. Even the huge ones just live 3 to 5 years.

THE MANTLE, THE SIPHON, THE ARMS

1. The mantle is a muscular sac containing the body parts of the octopus as shown above.

2. The funnel (also called a siphon) is used to breathe and to move about.

3. Arms are used for locomotion but also for sensing and eating. The two rear ones are used primarily for walking and crawling along the seabed and are often referred to as the “legs” whereas the other six (the “arms”), are used for getting food as well as propulsion.

ENCOUNTERS WITH CEPHALOPODS: Norway, France, Japan

1. In Norwegian mythology one of the great monsters is a giant cephalopod called a “Kraken.”

2. In Jules Verne’s best-selling re-telling of the Odyssey, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” (1871) Captain Nemo (that is, Odysseus) and his crew are attacked both by a school of octopus and a giant squid.

3. Verne was likely inspired by Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea (1866) in which the fisherman hero has a battle with an octopus.

NB: One of the most famous examples of classic Japanese erotic art (shunga) involves an octopus. The octopus has also been used as a metaphor for a powerful, malevolent organization.

Octopus

Octopuses Are Ingenious Animals That Should Never Be Eaten | PETA

Cephalopods in popular culture

My Octopus Teacher

Octopus as food

Giant squid

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Toilers of the Sea

Kraken

Shunga

A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive

YOUR TURN

Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to science, engineering, or technology. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to science and engineering.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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