Habitat defines intelligence: reef octopuses are more intellectually developed than those of the deep sea


Scientists at the University of Queensland, Australia, have revealed differences in brain structure and intellectual capacity between different species of octopus, according to a Release of the University.

“The octopus is a master of camouflage, able to solve complicated tasks and its cognitive abilities are said to be similar to those of some small mammals,” said Wen-Sung Chung, a doctor at the University’s Brain Institute.

Researchers examined the brain structures of four species of octopus using MRI to obtain detailed 3D images: a deep-sea octopus, a solitary nocturnal species, and two different diurnal reef octopuses.

Deep-sea cephalopods have been found to have smooth brains like marsupials and rodents, adapted to their slow pace of life and limited interactions with other animals.

“Reef octopuses had much larger brains with primate properties, suited to complicated visual tasks and social interactions in living, well-lit environments,” the report notes.

The results of the study show that characteristic neuroanatomical changes are linked to their customs and habitats, according to the research summary published in Current biology.

Among reef octopuses, in particular, joint hunting with predatory reef fish has been recorded; situations where the octopus leads, while the coral trout join an active search for prey or take advantage of a prey abandoned by an octopus.

Differences in brain structures between species are associated with the size of the brain surface, indicating that the larger the surface, the more complex the nervous system and the greater the cognitive abilities.

These disparities in the brain structure of cephalopods pave the way for a better understanding of the complexity and evolution of these animals, concluded the study director, Professor Justin Marshall.

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