(p. A23) I can’t stop telling people about the factoids I learned from Amia Srinivasan’s book review essay “The Sucker, the Sucker!” in The London Review of Books about the personality of octopuses. An octopus’s arms have more neurons than its brain, so each arm can taste and smell on its own and exhibit short-term memory. An octopus can change color to mimic other animals, but it cannot itself see color. So how does it know which color to change into? Good question.
Octopuses are curious but sometimes ornery. When researchers tried to train an octopus to pull a lever to get food, the octopus kept breaking off the lever. Octopuses try hard to escape from captivity, waiting for those moments when they aren’t being watched. One octopus persistently shot jets of water at the nearby aquarium light bulbs, repeatedly short-circuiting the electricity supply until it was finally released into the wild.
For the full commentary, see:
Brooks, David. “The Sidney Awards, Part I.” The New York Times (Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017): A23.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 25, 2017, and has the title “The 2017 Sidney Awards, Part I.” The online version says that the New York edition of the print version of the commentary appeared on Dec. 25, 2017 on p. A25. It appeared on Dec. 26 on p. A23 of my National edition.)