Video Wonder: An Octopus Trash Fight - Atlas Obscura
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Video Wonder: An Octopus Trash Fight

These eight-legged grumps may be trying to clock each other with shells.

In a human neighborhood, a garbage fight means passive-aggressively dumping your bag in someone else’s can. In an octopus neighborhood, it means a full-on trash brawl.

Octopus dens are surrounded by middens–piles of shells and other junk leftover from their shellfish meals. In this video from New Scientist, two eight-armed tusslers wrestle around before retreating to their respective homes and chucking shells and dirt at each other, like kids at a snowball fight.

The battling octopi “use a sort of inverted jet propulsion” to chuck the shells, videographer Peter Godfrey-Smith explained. They gather up projectiles in their many arms, and then shoot water out of their siphons to give their throws some added oomph.

It’s hard to tell whether this video shows a true garbage fight, or just “enthusiastic housekeeping,” says New Scientist, but the fighting octopi hit their targets more often than you’d expect by chance. In any case, it’s sure to inspire legions of disgruntled humans to kick up their trash day game a notch.

Every day we track down a Video Wonder: an audiovisual offering that delights, inspires, and entertains. Have you encountered a video we should feature? Email ella@atlasobscura.com.