Over the years numerous experiments have been carried out to measure the intelligence of an octopus, but the results are broadly inconclusive. While some swear by the acuteness of the octopus brain, others attribute the characteristics to evolution. One of the other main reasons why the opinion varies is because of the non uniform definitions of the term intelligence.
The cephalopod species has some unique traits that make it of prime interest and experiment to many researchers. One key fact is that most animals, big and small, are most active either when they’re hunting for food or when they’re themselves being hunted; the experiments used to judge the intelligence of the octopus are also based on such scenarios.
Clams are a delicacy for octopuses who have cultivated different styles for tackling soft and hard shelled clams. The octopus uses its tough beak to break through the hard shelled clam species and if required, also squirts poisonous venom into the holes to paralyze the clam. For the softer shelled clams the tentacles of the skeleton-less creature are sufficient. This interesting observation definitely proves that the octopus has evolved over time and hints that intelligence may have played a major role in the process.
In another exercise it was noted that octopuses move faster in choppy waters than they do in calmer or shallow places. This successful characteristic fools their prey into mistaking the octopus for a rock on the seabed and alludes to intelligence. The octopus is found in varying environments and their diverse strategies to escape from predators include spurting ink, camouflage and the ability to quickly dart across the water. Experts believe that only an expert species can develop multiple escape strategies against enemies.
Today scientists continually attempt to train the octopus to gain more insight into its behavior. They have found that octopuses remember their way through a maze and use their complex nervous systems to differentiate between objects of different shapes. The eight legged species is also famous for indulging in playful activity with plastic objects placed in its water tank.
The jury may still be out on how intelligent the octopus really is but there is no denying that the charming invertebrate will continue to mesmerize onlookers around the world.