Octopus: Genius of the deep

By | November 6, 2006

Octopus Genius of the deep

They can use tools and experience pain and stress. Octopuses are so intelligent they may win special protection in laboratory research – and from the cruelty dished out by some restaurant kitchens. …

Author William Burroughs saw the octopus as a “highly emotional” creature, liable to change red with lust or pale green with fear. But in British laboratories, cephalopods are regarded as a species so unsophisticated they are denied even basic legal protection.

Not only can cephalopods be experimented upon live, their vivisection does not require a licence. As a result, there is no record of how many are being used in lab tests or for what they are being used. But compelling new evidence about their abilities means that may be about to change.

New research has shown that octopuses and their cousins, the squid and cuttlefish, are far more intelligent than previously thought. They can experience suffering and are capable of complex thought, even to the extent of using tools.

The discovery has provoked a rethink by the Government and European Union. Proposals are being drawn up to offer octopuses and their kind the same protection in laboratories as monkeys, cats and dogs.

There is even talk of their receiving better protection in restaurant kitchens, where they are routinely chopped up and cooked alive, after the European food watchdog ruled that they were capable of suffering “pain and distress”. – more

These things are amazing to watch as them move around. I’ve observed an octopus about the size of my fist squirt water from an aquarium with incredible accuracy a great distance to hit an idiot student who was being annoying. I’ve liked them ever since … and I don’t mean to eat.

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