Read My… Color Changes


It seems that octopi have some social drama too, but instead of Facebook they use color changes to communicate with each other!

Biologists are studying a group of octopi living in unusually high densities off the East Coast of Australia. The scientists collected and analyzed over 50 hours of video footage, and found something interesting. It was previously believed that an octopus would only change color for camouflage and to evade predators. However, the scientists noticed that an aggressive octopus would turn a dark color and stand tall with its tentacles spread around itself in a “Nosferatu pose” (the spread of the octopus’ tentacles reminded biologists of the vampire Nosferatu’s cape), and it often would stand on higher ground to make itself appear larger. In contrast, a submissive octopus would turn a lighter color and swim away, signaling that it was not a threat and wanted to avoid conflict. The footage also showed that two dark colored octopi were more likely to fight with each other.

This new research shows that octopi may not be as solitary as originally believed, so perhaps we are just scratching the surface of octopi social interactions. Personally, I am excited that these scientists are combining two of my favorite things: cephalopods and vintage horror movies!

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Feb 1, 2016

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