“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
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.
Does God Exist? MarApr11.