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Tool use

Amphioctopus marginatus travels with shells it has collected for protection


The octopus has been shown to use tools. At least four specimens of the veined o
ctopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) have been witnessed retrieving discarded coconu
t shells, manipulating them, and then reassembling them to use as shelter.[18][1
9][20]
Defense
Greater blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata)
An octopus's main (primary) defense is to hide, either not to be seen at all, or
through camouflage and mimicry not to be detected as an octopus.[21] Octopuses
have several secondary defenses (defenses they use once they have been seen by a
predator). The most common secondary defense is fast escape. Other defenses inc
lude distraction with the use of ink sacs and autotomising limbs.
Most octopuses can eject a thick, blackish ink in a large cloud to aid in escapi
ng from predators. The main coloring agent of the ink is melanin, which is the s
ame chemical that gives humans their hair and skin color. This ink cloud is thou
ght to reduce the efficiency of olfactory organs, which would aid an octopus's e
vasion from predators that employ smell for hunting, such as sharks. Ink clouds
of some species might serve as pseudomorphs, or decoys that the predator attacks
instead.[22]
An octopus's camouflage is aided by certain specialized skin cells which can cha
nge the apparent color, opacity, and reflectivity of the epidermis. Chromatophor
es contain yellow, orange, red, brown, or black pigments; most species have thre
e of these colors, while some have two or four. Other color-changing cells are r
eflective iridophores, and leucophores (white).[23] This color-changing ability
can also be used to communicate with or warn other octopuses. The highly venomou
s blue-ringed octopus becomes bright yellow with blue rings when it is provoked.
Octopuses can use muscles in the skin to change the texture of their mantle to
achieve a greater camouflage. In some species, the mantle can take on the spiky
appearance of seaweed, or the scraggly, bumpy texture of a rock, among other dis
guises. However in some species skin anatomy is limited to relatively patternles
s shades of one color, and limited skin texture. It is thought that octopuses th
at are day-active and/or live in complex habitats such as coral reefs have evolv
ed more complex skin than their nocturnal and/or sand-dwelling relatives.[21]
When under attack, some octopuses can perform arm autotomy, in a manner similar
to the way skinks and other lizards detach their tails. The crawling arm serves
as a distraction to would-be predators. Such severed arms remain sensitive to st
imuli and move away from unpleasant sensations.[24]
A few species, such as the mimic octopus, have a fourth defense mechanism. They
can combine their highly flexible bodies with their color-changing ability to ac
curately mimic other, more dangerous animals, such as lionfish, sea snakes, and
eels.[25][26]