The more we learn about octopi (that's the plural for octopus), the more intelligent we discover they are. Intelligence seems to be inherent in all 300 or so species of octopus and not just limited to a few varieties. Octopi can problem solve, can be trained to learn behaviors and are extremely ingenious in figuring out how to get out of an aquarium and get into food. We can learn a lot from an octopus.
Complex Inside And Out
Just because an octopus doesn't have a backbone doesn't mean that they also lack nerve. On the contrary, their nervous system is very complex. They don't have very large brains, but they do have a very large nervous system, going all the way down each arm. They are able to take in a lot of information about their world and seem to be able to remember, learn and adapt to new situations.
The suckers on their long arms don't only feel, but also tastes. Each sucker works individually, so an octopus can just focus on one arm or one sucker. Their eyesight is sharp. Although their brains are quite small in comparison to ours, they still have very large brains for invertebrates. In a brain-to-body-weight ratio, octopi have bigger brains than many species of reptiles or fish (which have backbones, considered an evolutionary advancement).
We have brains in our skulls and they have them around their esophagus, but still they have many physical characteristics of a human brain. They have folded lobes. Their tactile centers seem well developed and impressively wrinkly. The memory center in their brains also seems advanced for an invertebrate.
Perhaps you've seen the YouTube video of an octopus in a German aquarium that learned to open a jar to get shrimp or crab. Octopi have also been taught to go through mazes and to pick out different shapes or patterns. Their short term and long term memory seems to be excellent. They need a flexible intelligence in order to cope with the changing demands of life in the oceans.
There have been reports that wild octopi have figured out that fishing boats have fish and have been caught breaking into the holds to steal a seafood dinner. Captive octopi have learned to creep out of their tanks through the tiniest of holes, crawl across the floor, up another tank and then squeeze inside to get at the fish.
It is thought that octopi are as intelligent as dogs in their capacity to learn certain behaviors, to problem solve, to manipulate objects and to train human beings to feed and care for them. Clearly, there is more to an octopus than just a lot of legs.