The Amazing, Adaptable Octopus

Octopuses are well known for their impressive survival skills—from their ability to fit into impossibly small spaces and regrow lost limbs, to their quick camouflage capabilities and ink that clouds predators’ senses of sight and smell.

Published October 06, 2016

two-swimming-octopuses

Another threat they may be thwarting is climate change.

While the sea-level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change are having widespread negative effects on living things on land and in the sea, cephalopods—octopuses as well as squid and cuttlefish—seem to be faring fairly well.

A recent study by researchers from Australia's Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide found that cephalopod populations have increased globally over the last six decades and may actually be benefiting from a changing ocean environment. The scientists attribute cephalopods’ population growth in part to their unique set of biological traits—such as rapid growth and short lifespans—that allow them to adapt quickly to changing conditions.swimming-cuttlefish

This ability appears to have served the species well for a very long time.

In 2009, scientists found five well-preserved octopus fossils in Lebanon in rock dating back 95 million years. The fossils—which are rare due to the fact that octopuses’ boneless bodies disintegrate quickly—each showed eight arms, traces of muscle and rows of suckers. A few of the fossilized remains even had remnants of ink and internal gills. Going back even further, the oldest known octopus fossil belongs to the Pohlsepia, which lived nearly 300 million years ago.

Learn more about this cephalopod-centric study here! 

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