WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

Learning from the Octopus

The octopus may be nature's most clever adapter. When faced with a threat, the sea-dwelling mollusks have been known to strangle sharks with their tentacles, venture into the open air for food, and use coconut shells tossed in the ocean as armor. Marine ecologist Rafe Sagarin thinks we humans could learn a lot from the way animals like the octopus react to threats. We talk to him about what nature can teach us about adaptability, interdependence, and organization that can help us meet threats in a more effective way.

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Scientists believe the octopus is the only invertebrate that can learn through observation. Here, a carer for Caroline, a Giant Pacific Octopus at the Smithsonian National Zoo, demonstrates how Caroline enjoys challenge and stimulation when fed:

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Male Fiddler crabs, with one disproportionately large claw, can grow the claw back on the opposite site of their bodies if it is lost:

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