Quirks & Quarks

An Octopus Mystery Untangled

Investigating why the Octopus doesn't get tangled in its limbs and stick to itself....

Investigating why the Octopus doesn't get tangled in its limbs and stick to itself. For years scientists have been mystified as to why octopuses don't stick to themselves or tie themselves in knots.  After all, their eight arms can move in any possible direction and each has hundreds of suckers that enable the octopus to latch on to nearly any surface. Dr. Frank Grasso, a Professor of Biomimetic and Cognitive Robotics at the City University of New York, and colleagues studied the common octopus and found that a chemical signal in the skin prevents the octopus sucker from grabbing itself.  They hope they can understand this better to contribute to the development of robots requiring similar flexibilty and dexterity.

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