Sunday, 18 May 2014

Special Chemical In Skin Keeps Octopus Arms From Entangling

May 16, 2014

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

With eight long arms covered on one side with prey-grabbing suckers – octopi appear to be very susceptible to getting themselves tangled up in knots.

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However, a chemical generated by an octopus’ skin prevents this problem from happening by temporarily preventing its suckers from sticking, according to a new study in the journal Current Biology.

“We were surprised that nobody before us had noticed this very robust and easy-to-detect phenomena,” said study author Guy Levy, an octopus specialist at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “We were entirely surprised by the brilliant and simple solution of the octopus to this potentially very complicated problem.”

The study team has been researching the motor control system of octopi for years and also recently found that the animals don’t exactly know what their arms are doing sometimes.

“Our motor control system is based on a rather fixed representation of the motor and sensory systems in the brain in a formant of maps that have body part coordinates,” said study author Binyamin Hochner, a principal investigator in the octopus group.

He added that the human motor control system is set up this way because of the limits placed on our movement by our skeletal system – limits that octopi don’t adhere to.

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