Godfrey-Smith et al., 2022, PLOS ONE, CC-BY 4.0
This female octopus is doing some spring cleaning.
Once she emerges from her den with a pile of shells, she does something unexpected.
Here, the octopus lifts the debris with her tentacles and forcefully launches them away with a burst of water from her siphon.
Writing this week in the journal PLOS One, researchers recorded over one hundred instances of the species Octopus tetricus throwing shells, silt, and other debris.
Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images
In the case of octopuses, several situations seem to prompt debris tossing.
Sometimes, they’ll even aim their spew at other octopuses.
When octopuses ended up in the line of fire, they’d sometimes react by raising their tentacles or ducking, as was the case for this male (right).
The researchers found that blasts aimed at other octopi tended to be more vigorous than the ones used for tasks like cleaning.
And there were cases where vigorous throws didn’t seem to be aimed at anyone in particular.
Determining the intentions of behaviors is tricky with wild animals, the authors write.
But one thing is for sure: Octopuses can officially be added to the short list of non-human creatures that know how to fling things.