What is an octopus?
The name octopus refers to an entire order (Octopoda) of underwater cephalopod mollusks, that is, to a group of soft-bodied animals, equipped with eight agile limbs with suckers on their inner face. It is one of the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse invertebrates known in the world. With its ductile body and its ability to change colors and simulate textures, the octopus is one of the marine animals that has most fascinated humans since ancient times.
It is an animal known throughout the world, part of numerous gastronomic traditions, such as the Mediterranean or the Asian, and which appears in the maritime representations of antiquity, often in gigantic and terrible dimensions (the Kraken).
The oldest fossils of octopuses that have been found date from the Carboniferous, around 300 million years ago, and are distinguished from some close relatives, such as the extinct ammonites, in that they lack a calcareous shell.
Nowadays, About 300 known species are classified within the order Octopoda. Divided into two suborders:
- Incirrin: Species that lack swimming fins.
- Cirrin: Species that lack suckers on their appendages.
Characteristics of octopuses
Octopuses, in general, are characterized by the following:
- They are mollusks without a shell that is to say, of a soft and ductile body, capable of elongating, contracting, and even sneaking through tiny spaces.
- Their bodies have bilateral symmetry and they are made up of a head, where the eyes, gills, and the siphon that allow breathing and rapid movement are, as well as a mouth in the form of a rigid beak, around which there are eight appendages: six “arms” and two “feet”. The inner face of these appendages is usually covered with circular suckers.
- in your body has an ink tank which many species can expel as a defense mechanism, leading to a rapid escape.
- Another essential feature is that your skin has numerous pigment cells which allow abrupt and sudden changes in color, being able to camouflage itself in the environment almost perfectly.
- The eyes of the octopus are among the most developed among all invertebrates, as well as a closed circulatory system, with three hearts and a complex nervous system that goes beyond the brain, as it has neurons in the animal’s own appendages.
- These are intelligent animals, capable of solving simple problems and planning hunting strategies, given that their habits are essentially predatory. At the same time, the octopus is part of the food of many larger predators, such as certain types of sharks.
- They are solitary animals that socialize little or not at all outside of reproduction and which never form colonies.
Where do octopuses live?
The octopuses are present in all oceans, adapted to their environment in a multiplicity of different species. They usually make their lair in cracks, outcrops, or simple underwater mud. They are not particularly territorial animals, although they tend to manage in a specific area, leaving it only to go eat.
What do octopuses eat?
The octopuses are essentially predators, and their favorite prey is small crustaceans, fish, worms, and other mollusks or crabs. It is possible that some species supplement their diet with algae and similar vegetables, but this is very rare. They typically use their superb vision and camouflage strategies to ambush their prey, which they then calmly devour in their lair.
How do octopuses reproduce?
The reproduction of the octopus has been little studied. It is known that it is given in sexual terms and in a promiscuous way: the males, smaller than the females, have an arm adapted to reproductive functions, with which they deposit their spermatophores inside it, structures that will later release the sperm.
The female can then store the male’s cells to later fertilize the eggs. as you deposit them. From these eggs come tiny pups known as paralarvae, after their mother takes care of them and keeps them clean for a variable time, which can reach 10 months. The mothers do not usually feed during this period, so at its end they are often too weak to go on with their lives, dying within a few weeks. Males also undergo rapid senescence after breeding and die shortly thereafter.
How long do octopuses live?
The life expectancy of the average octopus is short. Some small species can last only 6 months of life, while the giant North Pacific octopus is capable of living around 5 years. Nevertheless, playback always marks the end point of the life of the individuals of the species: the males die shortly after mating and the females shortly after their eggs hatch.