Why the octopus never gets knotted

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iol scitech may 20 octupus INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS How does an octopus avoid getting its eight arms in a tangle? PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

London - It’s a sticky question that could have even the best of us tied up in knots. How does an octopus avoid getting its eight arms in a tangle?

Scientists now have the answer – and it’s a lot simpler than you might think.

Despite having a brain that does not know where all of its long and bendy limbs are at any one time, an octopus will never get confused.

That’s because its arms will stick to just about anything – other than themselves.

The team at Hebrew University of Jerusalem think the suckers on the limb temporarily shut down when they sense a chemical made by the animal’s skin.

They made the finding after studying amputated octopus arms. These stay alive after they are removed, and can still grab and suck. But the severed limbs failed to attach to other arms with skin on them. If the limbs had been skinned, they happily grabbed them, according to the journal Current Biology.

The team said: “We were entirely surprised by the brilliant and simple solution of the octopus to this potentially very complicated problem.” - Daily Mail

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