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Octopus arms can make decisions on their own

The remarkable distributed nervous system of the octopus is discussed at an astrobiology conference.

Image source: Kondratuk Aleksei/Shutterstock
  • Unlike vertebrates, two-thirds of an octopus' neurons are in its tentacles.
  • Tentacles respond to the surrounding environment without help from the head's brain.
  • If something this weird is here on our own Earth, what could be out there in space?
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Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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Scientists Discover Octlantis, An Octopus City off the Coast of Australia

There’s a special reason these generally solo cephalopods have decided to cohabitate. 

 

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting an octopus’s garden like the Beatles song portrays, you might get your chance—if you visit Australia. Common Sydney Octopuses, also known as gloomy octopuses (Octopus tetricus​) were recently found cohabiting in Eastern Australia’s Jervis Bay, at a depth of 10-15m (30-45 ft.).

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