The undersea and the ecstasy: MDMA leaves octopuses loved up

Normally antisocial sea creature becomes friendly and tactile after being given the drug, scientists say

What happens when you give an octopus MDMA? It sounds like a question that might flit through the meandering mind of someone who had been dabbling in psychedelics. But now the matter has become the focus of an unlikely-sounding scientific experiment to uncover the ancient origins of social behaviour.

By showing that the normally antisocial sea creature became friendly and tactile after being given MDMA, also known as ecstasy, scientists believe they have made a link between the social behaviours of humans and a species from which we are separated by more than 500m years of evolution.

the creatures’ normal hostility towards each other vanished and they became touchy-feely. The findings suggest that the brain chemical serotonin, which floods the brain after a dose of MDMA, has been a trigger for social behaviour since very early in evolutionary history.

Four octopuses were placed in a beaker of diluted MDMA, which they absorbed through their gills. While on the drug, all four spent far more time in the chamber with the caged octopus than they did without the drug.

The nature of their interactions were also strikingly different. Without MDMA, they approached the cage tentatively with just one tentacle outstretched. The drug made them relaxed and friendly. “They’re basically hugging the [cage] and exposing parts of their body that they don’t normally expose to another octopus,” said Dölen.

There appeared to be other parallels with the euphoria experienced by people who take MDMA. “Some were being very playful, doing water acrobatics or spent time fondling the airstone [aquarium bubbler],” said Dölen.

Others stretched out all eight arms and just floated around, doing what the researchers described as “water ballet”.

The findings are surprising because the octopus brain is radically different to our own: the central brain surrounds their throat and the majority of neurons, which appear to work semi-independently, are distributed through the arms. Until now, much research into the biology underpinning social behaviour has focused on sophisticated brain circuitry. The latest work suggests a more prominent role for basic brain chemistry, and in particular the brain chemical serotonin.

Prof David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, said the findings added to evidence for emotion and empathy existing in a broad range of species. “This just proves that this is not some peculiar human characteristic, it’s not even a mammalian characteristic, it’s a characteristic of brains,” he said. “It also shows that serotonin has a hugely important role in mediating social interactions right across species.”

The implications are quite stunning

They’re separated from humans by more than 500 million years of evolution. But despite the differences between octopuses and humans, Dölen and her colleague Eric Edsinger, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Chicago’s Marine Biological Laboratory, choose to focus on a single crucial similarity. The brain of the California two-spot octopus contains a serotonin transporter that enables the binding of MDMA — much like human brains.

This means that serotonin — believed to help regulate mood, social behavior, sleep, and sexual desire — is an ancient neurotransmitter that’s shared across vertebrate and invertebrate species.
*takes E, grows extra legs*
You're not supposed to stroke your own.

Not in public, anyway. What you do behind closed doors is your own business.
Phase 2:

Give octopuses chewing gum, mobile phone, two turntables, some poppers, Sunny D orange juice, a barely legal car with a fake tax disc, some skins, 10 B&H and a warm and genuine smile.

A new little octopus.

No matter how deep scientists venture, the ocean always seems to be full of surprises. In late February, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) took a deep-sea robot for a spin near Hawaii, and they stumbled across a single, small octopus unlike any they’d ever seen before.

For a few years, the NOAA has dispatched the ship Okeanos Explorer to oceans all over the world to explore with its deep-diving robot, the Deep Discoverer. For the first dive of the year, the researchers sent the robot to examine the ocean floor northeast of Hawaii’s Necker Island. As it trawled around about two-and-a-half miles below the surface, the Deep Discoverer came across a tiny, ghost-like octopus hanging out on a large, flat rock all by itself, Sarah Laskow reports for Atlas Obscura.

“This octopus is now confusing several of our shore-based scientists who have never seen anything like this,” one of the researchers can be heard saying on a video taken during the dive.

While the octopus resembles some common species of shallow-water octopi, it has some differences that set it apart, the first being its ghostly color. Most octopi have chromatophore pigments, which allow them to change color. But the mysterious little octopus appears to be missing them, which explains its ghostly, iridescent appearance. Researchers also note that it only had a single row of suckers along each tentacle instead of two, Maddie Stone reports for Gizmodo. ...

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Having an octopus as a friend.

Imagine befriending an octopus, swimming alongside the much-feared great white shark, having your face stroked by a rarely seen clawless otter and cradling a wild rock fish in your hands.

These fascinating, life changing experiences have been documented by South Africans Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck in a newly released book entitled Sea Change - Primal Joy and the Art of Underwater Tracking following eight years of diving without wetsuits and scuba gear in the icy waters of Cape Town.

Mr Foster said he developed an amazing relationship with an octopus during the course of his daily dives into what he described as the "golden" underwater kelp forest outside Simon's Town, which lies on the Atlantic side of the Cape peninsula.
Why an octopus might think like an alien

Researcher Dominic Sivitilli goes to the bottom of the sea to study the bizarre mind of the giant pacific octopus.

Date: 3 February, 2020

To understand how aliens might think, Dominic Sivitilli went to the bottom of the sea to find the closest thing: an octopus. Its sophisticated nervous systems and sensitive suckers allow it to do incredible things like escape aquariums — but Sivitilli is learning how each of an octopus' eight arms might actually have a mind of its own. We don’t know yet if alien life exists. But if they do, they might think like an octopus.
Fascinating video shows octopuses really are 'nature's craftiest' creatures as it takes minutes for one to outsmart designers of their first ever escape room

Source: Daily Mail
Date: 3 February, 2020

Rudy the octopus uses his smarts to get out of a cage in several scenarios

Creature gets through the 'easy' Hidden Door Challenge in 1 minute 20 seconds

The Tube is mastered in 3 minutes 21 seconds and similarly The Bridge is tackled in 3 minutes and 54 seconds

But the most difficult level takes double the time but proves they are 'nature's craftiest escape artist'

A new video has shown just how intelligent octopuses are, with one of the planet's most unique species managing to work its way of an escape room in every one of four challenges with varying difficulty levels.

Video from Octolab TV shows an eight-limbed mollusc named Rudy use its smarts to get out of a cage in several different scenarios.

The underwater recording posted last Wednesday aimed to find out whether soft-bodied animals, usually associated with squids and cuttlefish, really deserve the title of 'nature's craftiest escape artist'.


'We sat down and devised the first ever escape room for an octopus.

'After all, escape rooms are great fun! If they are stimulating and entertaining for us, wouldn't they be equally beneficial for an octopus?' Octolab TV asks in the caption accompanying the clip.

Octolab TV said Rudy was selected because of his playful character and average size.
A fisherman discovered a strange red cephalopod on the shore A septopus? One of Cthulhu's great-grandkids? ...

Bright 'red glob' washes ashore in Washington. It may be a 7-armed octopus.


A mysterious, many-armed sea creature — initially described as a large "red glob" — lying on a rocky shore in Washington has drawn in cephalopod experts across the country, each wondering what this gelatinous animal is.

The 3.5-foot-long (1 meter) beast's identity was at first elusive; was it the shallow-water East Pacific red octopus (Octopus rubescens)? Or perhaps it was a very lost deep-sea vampire squid (Vampyroteuthis infernalis) or a deep-sea dumbo octopus (Grimpoteuthis)?

The likely answers (no, no and no) led scientists to yet another species: the seven-armed octopus (Haliphron atlanticus), a deep-water creature that is rarely seen as far north as Washington ...

Ron Newberry, a resident of Whidbey Island, north of Seattle in Puget Sound, discovered the weird creature before going salmon fishing the morning of Aug. 29. The tide was low, exposing algae-covered rocks. "And there it was, this red glob of something with what appeared to be tentacles," Newberry told Live Science in an email. The red beast was dead, he realized. But Newberry still snapped a few photos and uploaded them to the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Whidbey Camano Land Trust, a nonprofit nature conservation organization, where Newberry serves as communications manager. Later, the tide came in and carried the animal's body back into Puget Sound. ...

The seven-armed octopus is an animal of "least concern," meaning it's not considered to be threatened, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, its population size is unknown; and scientists know little about its habitat. Submersibles have recorded the species swimming in the deep sea, and bottom trawl fishing vessels have taken in large adults, the IUCN reported. ...

And, despite its intriguing name, the octopus doesn't have just seven arms. In males, the eighth arm is positioned in a sac next to the right eye, and the male takes it out when transferring sperm to potential mates. "Therefore it appears to have only seven arms, giving it the common name of the seven-arm octopus," according to the Scientific Reports study.

While some experts wish that Newberry had taken a slice of the creature so its DNA could be analyzed, he demurred. "it's not something I would do," he said. "I like to leave nature be."

Newly published research shows that in addition to having mini-'brains' of their own octopus tentacles are capable of tasting things they touch.
Octopuses Can Taste You With Their Arms. Here's How That's Possible

With strange smarts, shifting skin, and squishy bodies powered by three hearts, octopuses can get up to all sorts of mischief. Their camouflage mastery can allow them to remain hidden while they stealthily explore their surroundings with noodley limbs that each have a mini-mind of their own. With them, these sea aliens can reach out to taste you.

Now, we may have some idea of just how this touch-taste ability works.

As their arms stretch out across seabeds, probing with their thousands of independently moving, finger-like suckers, it turns out octopuses are using independent taste-sensing as well as unique touch-sensing cells to capture a sensory map of their surrounds.

Molecular biologist Lena van Giesen and colleagues from Harvard University identified these chemosensory cells - cells that detect molecules like our smell and taste cells do - in the California two-spot octopus's (Octopus bimaculoides) suckers' skin. ...

These chemotactile cells, with thin branched ends, can signal continuously (tonic firing), but they're dependent on being close enough to touch, rather like our tongues. The chemosensory cells can respond to multiple flavours, including chemicals found in cephalopod ink, and 'warning' chemicals emitted by potentially toxic prey.

"This is highly useful for the octopus to detect prey hidden within seafloor crevices or areas inaccessible from its traditional sense organs," molecular biologist Nicholas Bellono told ScienceAlert. ...

The team found that some of the chemotactile cells activated strongly in response to fish and crab extract. But they suggest that as well as detecting prey, this ability to touch-taste could also trigger a rapid retreat at repulsive flavours that hint at danger. They also observed how octopus ink shuts down the limb's ability to taste. ...

Bellono said the mini 'brains' in the octopus's arms must have exceptional ability to filter information from so many highly specialised receptors. This may help explain why two thirds of an octopus's neurons are in its arms.

So, octopus essentially have eight, brained and dexterous arm-tongues that allow them to feel-taste for food, semi-independently of their main body, in the dark depths of their ocean homes. How much more delightfully weird can life get? ...


Molecular Basis of Chemotactile Sensation in Octopus
Lena van Giesen, Peter B. Kilian, Corey A.H. Allard, Nicholas W. Bellono
Cell, VOLUME 183, ISSUE 3, P594-604.E14, OCTOBER 29, 2020

A nonapus.

A nine-armed octopus caught off Japan's coast nearly ended up being dinner, until the family preparing it noticed its extra limb and sent it to a museum instead, according to news sources.

While unusual, this extra appendage — which wasn't fully formed, but a small offshoot on a regular arm — isn't unheard of in octopuses, said Michael Vecchione, an invertebrate zoologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who was not involved with this octopus's discovery.

Octopuses are capable of regenerating their arms, but "sometimes regeneration doesn't work quite right," Vecchione told Live Science. "If an arm gets damaged, it might regenerate wrong; it could wind up with extra tissue growing out, and that extra tissue could turn into an arm." ...
Newly published research shows that in addition to having mini-'brains' of their own octopus tentacles are capable of tasting things they touch.
"If an arm gets damaged, it might regenerate wrong; it could wind up with extra tissue growing out, and that extra tissue could turn into an arm." ...
Does this mean that octopi / octopuses can effectively have nine mini-brains? And nine tongues? (Two heads are better than . . . , nine brains are better than . . . )
Octopuses Observed Punching Fish, Perhaps Out of Spite, Scientists Say

Date: 21 December, 2020

In new proof that 2020 has been a crappy year basically everywhere, scientists have captured video evidence of octopuses randomly punching at fish, possibly for no reason other than being spiteful.

While this remarkable, rather nasty-sounding behaviour might seem like it comes from a place of direct conflict between different animal species, that's not the whole story, researchers say.

In fact, this antisocial fish-punching phenomenon – which scientists term "active displacement" of fish – occurs in the midst of collaborative hunting efforts, in which octopuses and fish team up to chase and trap prey together.

"Octopuses and fishes are known to hunt together, taking advantage of the other's morphology and hunting strategy," explains marine biologist Eduardo Sampaio from the University of Lisbon in Portugal.

"Since multiple partners join, this creates a complex network where investment and pay-off can be unbalanced, giving rise to partner control mechanisms."

In much the same way as you or I might try to elbow-out fellow diners at a buffet, this 'partner control mechanism' therefore seeks to establish a sense of control and dominance in a food free-for-all.

It's just that partner control – when delivered by an octopus – is a tad more brutal than your average buffet queue experience.

In the past couple of years scientists have had this idea that octopuses are true aliens that came from another world.

Dr.Clifton Ragsdale at the University of Chicago claims that the octopus has 33,000 protein coded genes more than a human,

and with a large brain that can solve clever mind problems.

To go down the rabbit hole, the octopus arrived on planet earth from a crash space ship, or their DNA rode to earth on a meteor.

It is a good possibility that if we meet an alien, this alien could look like an octopus.

I never saw the movie, but I think the title was called Arrival were the aliens were octopuses.
In the past couple of years scientists have had this idea that octopuses are true aliens that came from another world.

Dr.Clifton Ragsdale at the University of Chicago claims that the octopus has 33,000 protein coded genes more than a human,

and with a large brain that can solve clever mind problems.

To go down the rabbit hole, the octopus arrived on planet earth from a crash space ship, or their DNA rode to earth on a meteor.

It is a good possibility that if we meet an alien, this alien could look like an octopus.

I never saw the movie, but I think the title was called Arrival were the aliens were octopuses.
Yes, Arrival had similar critters, iirc.
Octopuses have dined well for a long time.

Tiny holes in three fossil clams reveal that by 75 million years ago, ancient octopuses were deviously drilling into their prey.

The find pushes evidence of this behavior back 25 million years, scientists report February 22 in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The clams, Nymphalucina occidentalis, once lived in what is now South Dakota, where an inland sea divided western and eastern North America. While examining the shells, now at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, paleontologists Adiël Klompmaker of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and AMNH’s Neil Landman spotted telltale oval-shaped holes. Each hole was between 0.5 and 1 millimeters in diameter, thinner than a strand of spaghetti.

A modern octopus uses a sharp ribbon of teeth called a radula on its tongue to drill a hole into thick-shelled prey — useful for when the shell is too tough for the octopus to pop apart with its suckers. The octopus then injects venom into the hole, paralyzing the prey and dissolving it a bit, which makes for easier eating. Octopus-drilled holes were previously found in shells dating to 50 million years ago, but the new find suggests this drilling habit evolved a quarter million years earlier in their history. ...
Octopus And Squid Evolution Is Officially Weirder Than We Could Have Ever Imagined

Just when we thought octopuses couldn't be any weirder, it turns out that they and their cephalopod brethren evolve differently from nearly every other organism on the planet.

In a surprising twist, in April last year scientists discovered that octopuses, along with some squid and cuttlefish species, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment.
I posted this in the 'animal intelligence' thread, but i'll post it here too, its the bbc2 documentary 'octopus in my house'

'Octo' means '8' - right? Well ... It turns out that the number of tentacles extending off the body of an octopus can be more than 12 times the canonical number of eight.
Is Viral Photo of 96-Armed Octopus Real?

This is a genuine photograph of a 96-armed octopus and is on display at Shima Marineland in Japan. It appears that the octopus has about eight “main” tentacles that branch off into several smaller tentacles. reports that the octopus was discovered in Matoya Bay in December 1998. It was brought to Shima Marineland but died a few months after arrival. Since then, this unusual specimen has been on display at the aquarium. ...

While octopi normally have eight arms, this isn’t the first time one with numerous additional tentacles has been discovered. An article published in a 1965 issue of the Proceedings of the Japan Academy described several “octopuses with branched arms” that had been discovered since 1884, including one specimen with 90 arms.

Japan’s Toba Aquarium also has a few Octopi specimen on display with far more than the expected eight tentacles. ...

While the aquarium noted that there was “no established theory” to explain why these two animals developed multiple extra limbs, the organization believes these octopi may have regenerated extra tentacles after an injury. ...

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