Who would have thought a couple of coconut shells would be a smooth way to travel?
Amphioctopus marginatus, commonly known as the coconut octopus, has cracked open the power of the coconut. As the video above shows, this fuchsia-veined cephalopod squeezes each of its six-inch-long tentacles around its three-inch body, forming a tight ball that fits snugly inside two halves of a coconut shell. Coconut octopuses can be spotted clunking down the sloping, rocky terrain of the western Pacific Ocean floor.
Using shells and objects found on the ocean floor for protection is quite common among octopuses (although scientists have long debated whether the animals are using them as tools). However, the coconut octopus’ distinct way of picking up shell halves and waddling around with them under its tentacles for later use sets the species apart from others.
In a 2009 paper in Current Biology, biologists at Museum Victoria in Australia studied the coconut octopus’s behavior and described its uniqueness: “The discovery of this octopus tiptoeing across the seafloor with its prized coconut shells suggests that even marine invertebrates engage in behaviors that we once thought the preserve of humans.”
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