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Thursday, February 08, 2007


D. Sidhe

I don't remember doing that. In fact, I'm not sure I even knew about that. That's a great resource, though, so thanks to whoever did spot that.

Anyway, Violet's lovely and brilliant. I know they're short-lived, but it always strikes me that their intelligence and personality should overcome that and earn them names. Plus, eight arms. So many good opportunities for naming right there. But then, I named each of the thirty-odd mice I ended up with after taking in pensioned-off lab mice, and they're not really long-lived, either. I just like names.

I hope Violet is a big help. There are few things like having an octopus make eye contact with you to impress on kids how cool the ocean really is, and the virtues of consideration as a species.

Mark H

Hmm...I was sure it was you, but I can't find the comment in my logs. whoever it was, it's a very useful little tool.


I'm impressed, and after seeing that I would believe it if you told me Violet had played the piano as well.


Violet is about as cool as it gets. That's a great video. I rather suspect that no cat or dog I've ever owned would be able to figure that out in as few as three easy lessons.

When I lived in Tallahassee, and did some work at the FSU Marine lab, I kept an O. joubini successfully for several years on fiddler crabs. They're tiny little things, and were easy to find since they inhabited empty bivalve shells, pulling them closed when alarmed. My little captive (and this was in the early 70s) did very well until she finally laid infertile eggs, and then after a time started chewing her arms off.

Mark H

Once they lay eggs they're done. When this species (O. vulgaris) is young they do the same thing as yours did. They crawl into an empty clam or mussel shell and open and close the shells as needed.


I loved the speaking-in-tongues article. Very interesting... hsei eiorgb dohjeio bfooa nriolan nneieone dhuegege dloo...

Sorry, had the Holy Spirit in me there for a minute...


Richard Clayton

Fascinating. Sometimes it's important to remind ourselves that things we think of as uniquely human, like problem solving and tool use, aren't really uniquely human at all.

What happens if you try it with a reverse-threaded jar? Are octopodes smart enough to try twisting the lid in the opposite direction?

Mark H

I'm not sure if they learn and remember which way to twist or if it's just trial and error. I had one a few years ago that would tighten rather than loosen the cap about half the time. Violet seems to know which way to twist.

D. Sidhe

I'm impressed, and after seeing that I would believe it if you told me Violet had played the piano as well.

A guy walks into a bar with an octopus who he says can play any musical instrument invented. Someone challenges him to make it play the bagpipes. They hand the bagpipes over to the octopus, who stares at them and runs his tentacles over them a bit thoughtfully. One of the guys says "I told you he wouldn't be able to play that."

"Play it," says the octopus. "Mister, I'm trying to get her pajamas off her!"

D. Sidhe

Bah. That first line was supposed to be a quote. Sorry about that.


I'd be _really_ impressed if she'd put the lid back _on_ when she was done. ;-)


I was sort of surprised that the NYT didn't use the term glossolilia for speaking in tongues. It's such a fun word!
It's one of the few things I recall learning in my brief college career. It was a neat anthropology class - Magic, Ritualism and Religion. Maybe the term has fallen out of favor?

Chris Vosburg

D Sidhe, I run into you in the oddest places...

Thanks for the Octopus joke and thanks, Mark, for the amazing Violet video.

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