Octopuses deserve way more intellectual respect than we give them credit for, and films like My Octopus Teacher and Octopus: Making Contact, has only made us love them more. We’ve seen Octopuses open screw-top jars, dream, and even punch fish, and this time they’ve been seen throwing things at each other and ducking thrown objects in the latest batch of observations in the wild.
A team of Octopus researchers made the discovery while filming a particularly high population density of aptly named Gloomy octopus, Octopus tetricus, in Jervis Bay, Australia. Cameras were placed underwater for 20 hours to film the crazy cephalopods and the one stand-out behavior was not just the collecting of shells, silt, and algae before seeming to throw it, but also hurling it repeatedly at other octopuses in the close vicinity.
Alaskan behavioral ecologist David Scheel starred in the documentary Octopus: Making Contact and was also part of the research team who filmed in Jervis Bay. “I call it octopus TV,” Scheel told the journal Nature. “We weren’t able to try and assess what the reasons might be, but throwing might help these animals deal with the fact that there are so many octopuses around”.
There were also tell-tale signs that differentiated from when the octopuses were throwing debris for throwing’s sake and deliberately targeting each other when their coloration would darken and they would throw with more force, their siphons aiding propulsion of the objects. Projectile use is rarely seen outside of humans and some social mammals and this latest discovery highlight yet more similarities between Octopus behaviors and our own despite a world of differences in evolution and anatomy.