Actually it’s nine brains; it’s a head with a brain on eight legs, each with a brain of their own so that they can operate completely on their own. I’m talking about the octopus, which also has three hearts and a skin capable of making it invisible by perfectly mimicking it’s background with it’s skin’s pigments.
The octopus must be one of the most alien and intelligent creatures on our planet. If you want a sneak-peak at their incredible properties and characteristics, watch the short video below this article. A Spanish fisherman once set three traps, with each trap containing two sardines to lure in unsuspecting victims. One day he found two of the traps empty, with all six sardines and an octopus in the third one; the octopus gathered the first two, got out the trap and went into the second to grab two more sardines before settling down for a feast-meal in the third and final “trap”.
The reports of this animals intelligence are uncanny; they reportedly feel emotions close to our own, with reports of octopuses showing signs of disdain and annoyance towards caretakers they don’t like. They are capable of expressing certain emotions through coloring their skin and can turn pale with fear or red with anger. Some have been known to escape their tank and “walk”, outside the water, to another tank to get that delicious fish they saw there; they map and intelligently navigate their environments.
Their complete awareness of the environment is further proven by the fact that they can mimic with their skin patterns that they couldn’t have encountered in nature. And we’ve even had Paul the Octopus, who’s accurate predictions in the 2010 World Cup brought him worldwide attention as an animal oracle; Paul amassed an overall record of 12 correct predictions out of 14, a success rate of approximately 85.7%…
Octopuses don’t live very long though, with the largest ones reach a maximum of five years and many smaller ones live for six moths only. Of the longer lived ones, the female after 3.5 years and only one mating, locks herself in a rocky hollow to lay her eggs, and stays there for 6 months without feeding herself to take care of the eggs by protecting and oxygenating them. When they hatch, the mother dies; this self-sacrifice may preserve the species, but prevents the transfer of knowledge to the next generation causing each new generation to start learning about their world all over again.
The oldest cephalopod fossils known are approximately 500 million years old. From then there was a split into two branches; on one side we got the higher vertebrates including dolphins and humans, and on the other side we got the cephalopod of today, like the squid, nautilus and octopus. So during the last 500 million years, the octopus has developed it’s own brand of intelligence.
In lab experiments we’ve brought octopuses together to see if they are able to learn from each other and the outcome has always been a resounding affirmative; one octopus sees another one opening a complicated lock to get to a delicious crab, and can immediately reproduce that ability the other octopus has figured out in a few days. Also experiments have been done that prove they have a precise understanding of their own anatomy. When locked in a cage with an opening just big enough to escape through, they carefully examine that opening with an arm before very gently and deliberately moving each body part through, with the biggest part, the head, last. If the escape-hole is made a fraction too small, they won’t even bother examining it. Their memory capabilities have been tested in several maze experiments.
All higher forms of intelligence we’re familiar with evolved from one evolutionary branch; primates, dolphins and humans developed to become social creatures, forming groups and the ability to communicate, but the octopus developed a lifestyle of solitude. Yes, not us but they are the true individuals in an evolutionary understanding of intelligence. The octopuses solitary lifestyle might be the only reason they are not currently the dominant species on Earth. Let’s pray that they don’t start living in communities, learning from each other, passing their knowledge through the generations; that might be a horror science fiction movie come true…
Want to read more? Here’s the Wikipedia article about [Cephalopod intelligence](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_intelligence). Have a great day!