Why Don’t Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

We all know that octopuses, are created in a way that these eight-armed freaks don’t stick their arms together or suck their own bodies. 

Why Don't Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

Scientists have often pondered over how the eight-armed octopus avoids getting tangled around itself. This mystery was particularly perplexing given that each tentacle is lined with hundreds of suckers that are strong enough to stick to almost anything and the fact that unlike animals with rigid skeletons, the mollusks have no idea where their arms are, at any given moment. Hence, nature is indeed the perfect engineer. Just like, snakes are designed so that they won’t poison themselves with their own venom. 

Why Don't Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

Recently, some researchers from Israel’s Hebrew University of Jerusalem have finally solved the baffling puzzle. They believe that whenever the octopuses sense their own skin, they release a chemical signal that temporarily disables the suckers. 

Why Don't Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

Circular suckers cover the octopus’s arms, which enables them to cling to things, grasp prey, and other objects. But they can keep their arms from attaching on themselves. This not a conscious act as their brains don’t control the movement of their arms but the action of a chemical produced by octopus skin that temporarily prevents their suckers from sucking.

We were surprised that nobody before us had noticed this very robust and easy-to-detect phenomena. We were entirely surprised by the brilliant and simple solution of the octopus to this potentially very complicated problem,” says Guy Levy, who carried out the research with co-first author Nir Nesher. 

Why Don't Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

So, if octopuses are unaware of their arms then what really prevents their arms from sticking to their bodies?

To understand this, researchers studied the behavior of amputated octopus arms that remain active for up to an hour after separation. The arms grabbed octopus arms that had been skinned but did not grab octopus skin. The octopus arms didn’t grab Petri dishes covered with octopus skin, either, and they attached to dishes covered with octopus skin extract with much less force than they otherwise would.

Why Don't Octopus Tentacles Get Stuck Together?

The results so far show, that the skin of the octopus prevents octopus arms from attaching to each other or to themselves in a reflexive manner. The drastic reduction in the response to the skin crude extract suggests that a specific chemical signal in the skin mediates the inhibition of sucker grabbing.”

 

via Nature World News

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