MARINE BIOLOGY

Why octopuses don't get tied in knots

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Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 869
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.869-h

An octopus's appendages can form seemingly infinite postures and positions, but somehow they avoid becoming hopelessly entangled. The key appears to be chemicals in the skin, By examining amputated arms from the common octopus (Octopus vulgaris), Nesher et al. found that the animal's suckers would latch on to everything except its own arms. Petri dishes coated with the octopus's skin, whether intact or ground up into a mush, became “immune” to the zombie arms, suggesting that a substance in the skin repels the suckers. As octopuses are known to dine on their comrades, the substance may also prevent them from eating themselves alive.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.024 (2014).

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