Dive Into A Reddit AMA With Three Cephalopod Researchers

They talk about octopus behavior, fossilized cuttlefish ink, and proper cephalopod grammar.

We wish could ask cephalopod scientists questions for eight days straight, but the next best thing is an hour-long reddit AMA. 

 Roger Hanlon, Louise Allcock, and Mike Vecchione are authors of Octopus, Squid, and Cuttlefish: A Visual, Scientific Guide to the Oceans’ Most Advanced Invertebrates—and they know a lot about our favorite armed and tentacled creatures. Hanlon is a senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and studies cephalopod behavior, especially camouflage and signalling (he’s the scientist who captured that video of an octopus camouflaging perfectly into a rock in the ocean). Vecchione is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist whose current research focuses on the natural history of cephalopods and marine biodiversity. Allcock heads the zoology department at the National University of Ireland, Galways, and is particularly interested in the evolution and ecology of cephalopods. 

 They took questions on reddit for a full hour, and covered everything from octopus bonding behaviors to fossilized 160 million-year-old cephalopod ink to the debate on the proper plural form of “octopus.” Check out some highlights from the Q&A session below, or read the full AMA on r/AskScience. 

Roger Hanlon weighed in on octopus social behavior.

a squid in the deep dark ocean with a large black blob of eggs beneath its tentacles
MBARI’s remotely operated vehicle Tiburon captured this photograph of a female Gonatus onyx carrying a large egg mass, which is suspended from hooks on the squid’s arms. In this photograph, the squid is apparently using its arms to pump fresh seawater through the egg mass to aerate it. (c) 2002 MBARI

Louise Allcock discussed cephalopod ink, and how the current environment is affecting these creatures.

A squid squirting ink. Credit: Christian Baker, Noriyosi Sato, MBARI

Mike Vecchione shed light on colorblindness in cephalopods—and what makes their intelligence unique.

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A Squid’s Eye View

They discussed the behavior differences between squid and octopuses.

From SailboatAB: When I read about cephalopod intelligence, it’s always octopuses and cuttlefish. Are squids different, physically or behaviorally? Are they comparable to the other cephalopods mentally?

And of course, no Q&A about cephalopods would be complete without a debate about the proper plural form of the word “octopus.”

From SEJ46: So the plural form of octopus is octopuses? Good to know. Also I would have thought squid was the plural form of squid.

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About Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is a podcast producer and hosted Science Diction from Science Friday. When she’s not working, she’s probably baking a fruit pie. Cherry’s her specialty, but she whips up a mean rhubarb streusel as well.

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