Dandy Designs title-4/11


Octopus    “Sensational Sucker” is the title of a research article by Frank W. Grasso of Brooklyn College in Scientific American (October 2010, page 78). Dr. Grasso mentions in the article that an untrained person would look at an octopus sucker on its tentacles and think it is just a suction cup like we use to attach things to windows. It is far more complex than that, and Dr. Grasso has been studying the octopus with the hope of learning some mechanisms of control and behavior. It has been known for a long time that the octopus is a very intelligent animal, and learns very quickly. It turns out their tentacles and suction cups are also remarkable pieces of equipment.
    The sucker of an octopus has two chambers. When the octopus finds something it can eat, like a clam, the muscles of the outer chamber reshape the sucker to conform to the shell surface making a seal. The muscles of the inner chamber then contract making a negative pressure which increases the sucker’s grip. There are muscles which enable the octopus to rotate the shell without breaking the seal.
    In addition to the muscle structure there is an elaborate electrical system which connects to the edges of the surfaces and allows the animal to taste what it has caught. The sucker essentially has a small brain which enables the animal to sense what it is eating. The suckers are connected to each other, so they can pass an object from one sucker to the next without the brain of the animal being involved.
    When you look at an octopus you would not believe that it has a large brain and is very sophisticated. As we learn more about them we are realizing they are not only intelligent animals, but that they have very complex bodies. Their suction cups are just one of many things we see in nature that speak of the design God has built into animals to enable them to survive.

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