Have dolphins shed their bacon

The power of eight

Octopuses live on reefs, swim around and through them - they have to be able to move and orientate themselves well. No armor protects her body; therefore they are forced to keep an eye out for predators, to camouflage themselves and, if necessary, to quickly find the next hiding place. And finally, they hunt quickly and with great skill. Their food spectrum is wide: from oysters to crabs to fish, they catch and eat all kinds of animals.

If octopuses have such a sophisticated nervous system, can we really say they are smart? The answer also depends on what criteria we use to judge them. Signs of intelligence in birds and mammals - such as the ability to use tools - cannot always be easily transferred to an octopus: it does not need a tool to reach into crevices or to break open oysters - its body is made for that.

However, experiments in the 1950s and 1960s showed that the common octopus can cope well with tasks that require learning and memory - two qualities that we associate with intelligence. A certain part of the octopus brain, the vertical lobe of the brain, is dedicated to precisely these tasks. However, the common octopus is also by far the best known species of octopus. The structure of the brain can vary depending on the species, and since only a few have been explored so far, no one knows whether they are all equally gifted. Octopus researcher Roy Caldwell of the University of California at Berkeley says: "Some of the things I examined in the laboratory looked stupid." For example, which ones? "Octopus bocki, a tiny octopus. ”And why doesn't he seem particularly intelligent? “He just doesn't do a lot.” Stupid or intelligent, the fact of the matter is that octopuses are utterly amazing.

We want to go diving one last time off Lembeh. In the light of dusk we discover a rocky slope underwater. We kneel down to see better. A pair of small fish spawns right in front of us. An eel lies coiled up in a cave. A large hermit crab trudges past in its borrowed shell. And very close by, on a stone, sits a little one Abdopus aculeatus.

As we watch it, it begins to move. For a moment he seems to drift. In the next moment it slides along. Then he starts crawling over the stones - it's hard to tell whether he's pulling himself forward with his front arms or pulling himself off with his back arms. On its way down the slope, one of its arms discovers a small hole, and arm by arm the octopus disappears into it. He is gone. No not really. The tip of an arm comes out once more, feels the area around the hole, grabs a few small stones and pulls them over the entrance. So, everything is locked - now the night can come.