The color changing of the octopuses shows their intentions. A new study managed to prove that the octopuses have more interesting social interactions than the scientists previously believed.
For the study, the researchers studied a group of octopuses from the east coast of Australia. While they were analyzing the Sidney octopuses, the biologists discovered that a set of more complex interactions between the octopuses, than they expected. For the study, the researchers watched and analyzed footage that lasted for 53 hours and 186 interactions were noted. Mating, reaching, grappling and the Nosferatu pose were observed. According to the study’s authors, watching the footage was very consuming and at times frustrating, because once the octopuses got out of the frame, there was nothing that could be done.
Apparently, every time they change color they want to signal something. When the octopuses change their color to a dark one and stand taller, they show aggression. They are also trying to find a higher spot and they spread their arms. They also raise their mantel over their head and try to look as big as they can. The teams of researchers from the United States and Australia described this position as the Nosferatu pose, which makes a reference at the vampire from the horror film launched in the 1920s. When the octopuses change their color to a much paler one, it means that they either want to avoid conflict, either they just lost a fight. Their contrasting behaviors were seen the best when they went in or out of their dens. The researchers also noticed that when two octopuses that had dark colors were in each other’s proximities, then they were highly likely to fight. Also, when a dark colored octopus and a paler one met, the darker one was more likely to intimidate the paler one.
Until now, the scientist believed that the octopuses are solitary creatures and the body color changes were associated with ways to avoid their predators. According to Peter Godfrey Smith, who is a professor at the New York University, the study’s findings prove that the past theories on octopuses are wrong. He was one of the authors of the study.
The octopuses were studied in the Jervis Bay, which is in the South of Sidney. The researchers chose this area because the population of octopuses is very large there. The authors of the study were Godfrey Smith and David Scheel, who works at the Alaska Pacific University. The authors and their team studied the way in which the color changing of the octopuses shows their intentions.
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