It’s one of the most bizarre creatures on Earth, and not just because it looks so different. The octopus can camouflage itself in a flash; squeeze its entire body through a one-inch hole; and their brains? That’s right, an octopus has one large central brain, and eight mini-brains, one in each arm.
“Octopuses are so brilliant,” said author and naturalist Sy Montgomery, who believes their intelligence is almost off the charts.
“We give ’em the same toys to play with that we give our children,” Montgomery said. “They love to play. Play is one of those characteristics of higher minds.”
Rudy, a giant Pacific octopus, and one of the stars of the New England Aquarium in Boston, seemed to want to play with us.
Correspondent Chip Reid said, “Some people go, ‘Eeeww, that’s creepy.’ You go …?”
“I say, this is one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet, one of the smartest, one of the most interesting, and one of the most alien,” Montgomery replied.
“In fact, they’re portrayed in movies as aliens,” said Reid.
“That’s right, and as monsters.”
Yes, Hollywood octopuses have torn down the Golden Gate Bridge, destroyed ships, and feasted on movie stars. Montgomery says it’s unfair to demonize them: “You would really have to go to outer space to come up with someone more different from us than this. Their mouths are in their armpits; they have three hearts; they have blue blood. And the grace? I mean, who has grace like this?”
Montgomery spent countless hours studying these other-worldly beings while writing her book, “The Soul of an Octopus.”
Reid asked, “Do you believe the octopus has a soul?”
“I believe if I’ve got a soul, this octopus has a soul,” she replied.
And that, she claims, is not the only thing they have in common with humans.
“When I met an octopus for the first time, I was so struck by the fact that she was just as curious about me as I was about her,” Montgomery said.
Reid went behind the scenes to see for himself, with the help of senior aquarium biologist Bill Murphy. It turns out that calling an octopus curious is an understatement.
“Ahhh, she’s more interested in you than the food!” said Murphy.
“That’s scary,” Reid replied. .
It was as if she wanted Reid to join her in her octopus’ garden. “She is powerful,” he said.
“Yeah, you feel the pull in the muscle?”
A big part of Murphy’s job is keeping Rudy from getting bored. “Because they’re so smart, we try and keep them mentally stimulated,” he said. “And interactions like this help with that, ’cause they’re figuring us out and who we are and what we’re doing.” Click To Continue Reading This Story. . .