Inky the octopus's tenacious escape reveals intelligent, soulful creature
'At another New Zealand aquarium, there's an octopus who has learned to take photographs of the visitors by sticking his arms into a tube and pressing a red button.' - Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
Inky the octopus's great escape from the New Zealand Aquarium has captured the imagination of people world-wide. The eight-armed invertebrate has made enough headlines to rival Donald Trump, as the media marvels at Inky's fierce intelligence.
But, perhaps people shouldn't be so surprised by smarts on display in the animal kingdom — least of all from an octopus.
Octopuses are problem solvers, inspiring Houdini-like techniques to accomplish a successful escape — a common feat in many aquariums. And since the only hard part of an octopus's body is its beak, it can contort to fit into the tiniest spaces.
Octopuses need to be busy — their brains need stimulation at all times to keep them out of trouble. Often they like playing with toys such as Mr. Potato Heads and Lego - taking them apart and putting them back together. They also love to unscrew jars.
An octopus never forgets a face. Research shows an octopus can recognize individuals. So if you visit one more then once, the octopus will know it's you!
We don't tend to think of mollusks as somebody with intelligence, somebody with a self, much less someone with a soul - which we consider holy. But after getting to know these animals over three years ... I came to the conclusion that if I've got a soul, so does an octopus. - Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
So how does the smarts of an octopus compare to others in the animal world? Glad you asked.
Guests in this segment:
- Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness.
- Stephen Newmeyer, professor of classics at Duquense University.
This segment was produced by The Currents Sarah Grant, Sujata Berry, Ines Colabrese and Paula Last.