Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Alien intelligence: the extraordinary minds of octopuses and other cephalopods
''Inches above the seafloor of Sydney’s Cabbage Tree Bay, with the proximity made possible by several millimetres of neoprene and an oxygen tank, I’m just about eyeball to eyeball with this creature: an Australian giant cuttlefish.
Even allowing for the magnifying effects of the mask snug across my nose, it must be about two feet long, and the peculiarities that abound in the cephalopod family, that includes octopuses and squid, are the more striking writ so large.
Its body – shaped around an internal surfboard-like shell, tailing off into a fistful of tentacles – has the shifting colour of velvet in light, and its W-shaped pupils lend it a stern expression. I don’t think I’m imagining some recognition on its part. The question is, of what?