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Past studies have shown that the tentacles in octopuses have minds of their own, but that doesn’t mean catching prey is challenging for them – that’s because of leadership and delegation, scientists said in a new study.
Scientists tested how the California two-spot octopus species reacted – and which appendages they used – when crabs and shrimps were dropped in their tanks, Science Alert reported.
The eight-armed mollusks would hide inside a den and watch their prey with one eye peering out.
Video recordings showed that the octopuses would mainly rely on their second arm from the middle – to the side of their eye – to trap their prey. At times, the animals would also use their other tentacles.
The team noted that the creatures would use their arms in different ways depending on the prey: For example, a pouncing movement led by the second arm was used for crabs, which move slower. But for the elusive and quick shrimps, the octopuses used subtler arm movements to deceive and catch them.
The consistency of the second arm strike was somewhat surprising, given that octopuses are rarely seen as coordinated, but the researchers believe it has to do with their field of vision.
Researchers added that hunting tactics could change in the wild, saying more research is needed to understand the neuron activity linked to such precise motor movements.
Even so, they explained that the study could aid in the creation of soft robots, particularly those that work underwater.
“Octopuses are extremely strong,” said co-author Trevor Wardill. “For them, to grasp and open a door is trivial, given their dexterity.”