Have you ever wondered why octopuses’ tentacles don’t get tangled? Well, so have many other people, so researchers set out in search of answers to untangle this mystery.
Octopuses have eight arms (duh) that have a mind of their own, literally. An octopus has no control over what its tentacles are doing. This is because each tentacle has its own control system, which means that the tentacles are always ready to stick to just about everything, at any minute, and act entirely independent from the octopuses brain or other tentacles. Can anyone say “creepy”?
If that doesn’t make you want to say “wow”, maybe another special feature will. Robot designers and artificial intelligence researchers are particularly interested in this sea creature’s ability to control each limb individually. That is because a whopping 500 million nerve cells (yes, that many) control each limb independently and may provide insight into how robots could move in the future. Even when the limb has been detached, it still has “life-like” abilities for at least an hour. Severed limbs will occasionally grasp onto food and attempt to put the food in the mouth of the octopus which is no longer there.
But that leaves us with another baffling question: If each tentacle moves independently, then why do they not get stuck to themselves? This conundrum had many scratching their heads and so a team of Israeli and American scientists teamed up and observed octopuses sucking and grabbing on to items. Here’s what they uncovered:
Even though it is no secret that an octopuses’ tentacles will attach itself to everything, what you don’t know is that it will not grab hold of its own arm, even if it is severed. It has been discovered that the tentacles of an octopus will attach itself to everything except for, well, itself. Their own body and limbs are the exception to the rule as researchers were able to discover that octopuses have the ability to deactivate their suctioning powers when their tentacles sense their own tentacles. And this is a nifty trick, don’t you think? Otherwise they would be stuck in a perpetual knot of their own limbs.
The reason they can deactivate the power of their very powerful suckers is that octopuses rely on chemical senses. Scientists and researchers do not as yet have all the answers, but one thing is certain: octopuses can sense a chemical from their own body which prevents a one-track-minded tentacle from sticking to another tentacle of the same octopus.
Researchers have not yet been able to determine how this chemical is developed, but they believe the mystery chemical acts on the receptors in each individual sucker. It has given researchers a run for their money as they have not been able to completely figure out how this superpower works just yet.
However this chemical is produced, the octopuses ability to not entangle in its own independent tentacles is certainly another amazing thing about these already crazily cool creatures.