It’s not just cephalopods, of course: lots of non-humans are intelligent too. However, even with the same abilities… How do you give a chimp—or an elephant or an octopus or a horse—an IQ test? Studies have long been conducted to find the answers. You can probably sense the question coming next. She repeated the action 20 times," Montgomery reports. While the creatures only boast about 130 million neurons (humans have 100 billion), three-fifths of an octopus' brain cells aren't even in its head — they're in its arms, as if each tentacle has "a mind of its own," allowing it to feel out environments in a way researchers are still trying to understand. Apparently, he made it out of a small opening in his tank, and suction cup prints indicate he found his way to a drain pipe that emptied to the ocean. Like all the other animals they have encountered, including the talking animals they violently kill at the table before eating, the human is merely intelligent but lacks consciousness. So they must have big brains, right?Nope. In fact, they are real smart. "Only the smartest octopuses would survive — the ones who could hide the most cunningly, traveling alone to avoid exposure," says Annalee Newitz at io9. Scientists have decoded the genome of the octopus and have discovered just how different it … Octopus cyanea. Combine that with their eight tentacles, each of which has a mind of its own (seriously), and you've got a force to be reckoned with. As you might expect, the human demurs. Armed with 10,000 more genes than humans: Scientists hail the intelligence of the octopus. But anecdotes from aquariums and biology labs suggest octopuses are … use the following search parameters to narrow your results: subreddit:subreddit find submissions in "subreddit" Humans are the most intelligent lifeforms on planet earth. Being one of the closest relatives of humans, he said, "chimps offer a simpler way to think about that question." Such an endeavor requires "foresight, planning," and "even tool use," says Sy Montgomery at Orion Magazine. Consider, again, the octopus. ‘The human scoring low on Extroversion stays at home on Saturday night… the octopus scoring low on Boldness stays in its protective den during feedings…’, he wrote. They are incredibly smart, considering that they are invertebrates. The first revolves around whether consciousness is the key thing needed for moral status – that is, the thing you have that generates moral reasons to treat you in certain ways (avoid harming you, respect your rights). Further, as Mather explains, cephalopods are inventive problem solvers. In the past month alone, leading primatologist Franz de Waal has written on anthropomorphism and consciousness in chimpanzees; philosophers and science writers have discussed consciousness in artificial intelligences and whether machines could become self-aware without us realising; and the neuroscientist Michael Graziano has argued that current theories of consciousness are “worse than wrong” while predicting that we’ll have built a conscious machine within 50 years. We humans take a lot of pride in our brains and our supposed “dominance” over the other creatures of the earth. Some alien-human debate on the philosophy of mind ensues. Most octopuses kept in aquariums have only walnut-sized brains, on par with the gray matter of talking parrots. Copyright © 2010–2020, The Conversation US, Inc. anthropomorphism and consciousness in chimpanzees, consciousness in artificial intelligences. If so, just how clever do you have to be, and how do we measure that? And if so, what do we do about that? Yet, their sophistication has made them curious about the very meaning of intelligence itself. Direct comparison of squid and octopus intelligence is not feasible, as squid are much more difficult to keep in laboratories for study. Humans have a little more contact with livestock; pigs are stimulated. An octopus has three hearts that pump blue-green blood around its body, using a copper- rather than iron-based carrier for oxygen. "Like humans, dolphins appear to be self-conscious, unique individuals with distinctive personalities, memories and a sense of self, who are vulnerable to … Yet it’s hard to know what kind of mental life non-human animals actually have, and whether it is anything like ours. Social Survival Chimps can be surprising in their cognitive abilities, Hopkins noted. Does this mean lots of non-humans – octopuses, crows, monkeys, machines – are conscious? University of Oxford provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK. To demonstrate how smart an octopus can be, Piero Amodio points to a YouTube video. According to their neuroscience, it turns out that the human lacks the special neural structure they believe necessary for generating consciousness. Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life is published by William Collins. Octopuses use tools, recognize human caretakers, display varied hunting tactics and have problem-solving capabilities. As such the human has no moral status – she is something to be hunted, or enslaved. Though these criteria are difficult to measure in nonhuman animals, cephalopods seem to be exceptionally intelligent invertebrates. Direct comparison of squid and octopus intelligence is not feasible, as squid are much more difficult to keep in laboratories for study. Sy Montgomery does. Some scientists believe that we humans separated from cephalopods, evolutionarily speaking, perhaps more than 700 million years ago. Inky the wild octopus has escaped from the New Zealand National Aquarium. the octopus is most foreign to us and yet possibly the smartest maybe even smarter than we are. Unlike Inky the wild octopus, speculation about consciousness in non-humans isn’t going anywhere. Nice job Inky. More specifically, humans have long wondered about the intelligence of other animals. Though the modern octopus' lack of a shell leaves him more mobile for hunting, it also leaves him vulnerable to bigger predators. But given how little we know about consciousness, it seems foolhardy to believe such a thing at present. In their own kind of way, lots of machines are smart as well – some are better than the best humans at some of our most complicated games. Even if consciousness is key, it’s not clear where we draw the line: some say moral worth requires the kind of consciousness associated with feeling pain and pleasure (phenomenal consciousness), others point to the kind associated with self-awareness, or self-consciousness. For example, they are able to recognise the shape and paradigms (rough and smooth) of different objects, they have a spatial memory and are able to solve problems. As dolphins have no arms, this really gives octopuses a major leg up. What's "weird," says Montgomery, is the distribution of the octopus' neuron count. For example, Mather recounts the way two octopuses repeatedly used their water jets to blow an object towards an opposing stream of water in their tank: what she describes as “the aquatic equivalent of bouncing a ball”. Vermaercke: The “in some cases” caveat is key here. It’s not just cephalopods, of course: lots of non-humans are intelligent too. Cephalopod intelligence is a measure of the cognitive ability of the cephalopod class of molluscs.. Intelligence is generally defined as the process of acquiring, storing, retrieving, combining, comparing, and recontextualizing information and conceptual skills. For instance, parrots and ravens or crows have been taught to play poker. True, humans are prone to projecting their own qualities on the rest of the animal world. Scientists have decoded the genome of the octopus and have discovered just … We can tell from behavioural evidence that they are intelligent. How smart are pigs? Joshua Shepherd receives funding from the Wellcome Trust, award 104347. How Smart Is an Octopus? Measuring 'intellect' is a difficult task. Octopus intelligence is shaped, in part, by octopus needs – the kind of mind they have and need is dependent upon their evolutionary history, their environment, and their body-type. the octopus is most foreign to us and yet possibly the smartest maybe even smarter than we are. Cephalopods – squid, octopus, cuttlefish and nautiluses – have been around for millions of years. But its so alien to us that we can't recognize it easily and the reverse, its got to find us ugly and scary 2. and octopus so far don't exactly train to play cards like parrots do. One excited researcher quickly got on the phone to call her colleague: "She's bouncing the ball!". The best thing I’ve read lately on consciousness in non-humans is the short story, The Hunter Captain, by the philosopher and fiction writer David John Baker. The octopus has the largest brain of any invertebrate, and a whopping three-fifths of its neurons are located in its tentacles. If it is, does that make it wrong to eat them? My aim here has been to work up to the questions. The word "cephalopod" means "head-foot." Given these factors, it makes sense to say that octopuses are highly intelligent. We’re ill-prepared to recognise if or when this will happen, even if we may eventually come to have moral duties towards machines. The animals recognize their own names when called out, crawling affectionately towards caretakers they like. There are about 300 species of octopus, but the giant Pacific octopus is the largest, averaging 16 feet in length, and 110 pounds. Consciousness might be closely tied to the particularities of human-like intelligence. Here's why scientists have new respect for invertebrate cephalopods: What "human-like" tendencies have been exhibited?One octopus in captivity was observed "cleaning the front of its den" after securing food, then carefully arranging rocks to cover the entrance before going to sleep. “You can take away the whole aspect that it might be something they [the consumer] want to eat, so industry is not at all interested in promoting that. An octopus that was standing tall would usually also display a dark color and raise its mantle, all of which, the researchers said, appeared to signify aggression toward another octopus. It’s not just cephalopods, of course: lots of non-humans are intelligent too. Bird Brains: Are Parrots Smarter Than a Human Two-Year-Old? “The octopus is a stupid creature,” he wrote, “for it will approach a man’s hand if it be lowered in the water.” Octopus expert Jennifer Mather spent years studying them and found that they not only display the capacity to learn many features of their environment, they will transition from exploration to something approaching play if given the chance. They certainly seem to, although the sceptic might claim that all they do is react to stimuli as if they were in pain. In conjunction with Oxford University’s Practical Ethics blog. Though these criteria are difficult to measure in nonhuman animals, cephalopods seem to be exceptionally intelligent invertebrates. For instance, parrots and ravens or crows have been taught to play poker. Would Republicans believe election conspiracy theories without Trump? Or consider machines, which may develop mental lives of their own at some point. Armed with 10,000 more genes than humans: Scientists hail the intelligence of the octopus. That might be stretching things but, as an expert on animal cognition discusses, certain birds display startling abilities and … We all already interact with arguably conscious non-human animals of various levels of intelligence, and many of us will at some future point interact with arguably conscious machines of various levels of intelligence. ", Hmm. Do octopuses feel pain? So, are octopuses card-carrying brainiacs?To Caldwell, the quantity of neurons alone isn't an indicator of intelligence, which he defines as flexibility, or the ability to alter behavior from past experience. It may sound like the setup to a joke, but it is actually one of the thorniest questions facing science. Such questions are attracting a lot of interest. But, with that said, as we compared the literature on pigs and other animals we did find that in many domains pigs are as cognitively complex as dogs, primates. All these abilities are similar to those of vertebrates. Combine that with their eight tentacles, each of which has a mind of its own (seriously), and you've got a force to be reckoned with. Visuals Unlimited/Corbis. Are they self-aware? Should we trust that urge? An octopus swims off the coast of Hawaii: The gangly sea creature has been observed using tools and has been known to recognize and remember humans, according to scientists. Aristotle didn’t have a high opinion of the octopus. This is surprising because octopus and squid are very closely related and the setup of their nervous systems is similar. ... Not necessarily where they stack up against others. But its so alien to us that we can't recognize it easily and the reverse, its got to find us ugly and scary 2. and octopus so far don't exactly train to play cards like parrots do. How did the animal get so smart?Scientists think the loss of the ancestral shell eventually sharpened the animals' wits. It involves an alien race that encounters a human being for the first time. Baker’s story dramatises very well two key decision points we face when worrying about consciousness in non-humans. “But it does train people to associate pigs as pets,” says Dunipace. Even if intelligence alone isn’t enough to warrant consciousness, it might not be psychologically possible for us humans to confront a highly intelligent being without feeling the urge that it is conscious. Because there is an obvious sense in which we all have to decide what to think about these questions. It's why the animals "use tools to hide all the time.". Results have shown that creatures like chimpanzees and dolphins are very […] Comparing octopus intelligence to mammal intelligence is a dubious proposition, but the point is, they're really freaking smart.) The word "cephalopod" means "head-foot." That was a simpler time, eons before the octopus and Homo sapiens went their separate evolutionary ways, and certainly long before that highly intelligent cephalopod, which appeared some 300 million years ago, ended up boiled, stewed and fried. Your courage gives us the chance to reflect on just how smart cephalopods really are. The second decision point surrounds the nature of consciousness, and whether a certain level or type of intelligence is enough. While humans have about 60 protocadherins, the octopus genome was found to have 168, nearly three times the neural wiring capacity than humans (who … Michael Richards/Getty Images. I'm rooting for pro-democracy Republicans, Rudy Giuliani, hospitalized with the coronavirus, says he has 'exactly the same view' on COVID-19, Arizona Republican leaders are now openly sniping at each other, An octopus swims off the coast of Hawaii: The gangly sea creature has been observed using tools and has been known to recognize and remember humans, according to scientists. Ask a science question, get a science answer. Check out one way scientists are attempting to make this endeavor more testable. As it turns out, the octopus genome is almost as large as a human’s and actually contains more protein-coding genes: 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in humans. In another study, octopuses "learned to open childproof caps on Extra Strength Tylenol Pill bottles — a feat that eludes many humans. Some scientists believe that we humans separated from cephalopods, evolutionarily speaking, perhaps more than 700 million years ago. Octopuses use tools, recognize human caretakers, display varied hunting tactics and have problem-solving capabilities. Now, some of the adaptations mentioned above are unrelated to intelligence, and simply reflect how cool an octopus is, but their ability to use tools and their skillful avoidance tactics, combined with certain other traits, e.g., playing, curiosity, engagement with humans, mischief, and problem-solving, suggest that these creatures are truly something special. If an octopus isn't enamored of you, he'll squirt water at you when you call. Octopuses are smarter than we thought. When predating clams, for example, octopuses will use a variety of strategies to remove the meat from the shell, often cycling through strategies – pulling the shell open, chipping the shell’s margin, or drilling through the shell – in a trial-and-error way. While a crow's brain may seem small in comparison to a human brain, what matters is the size of the brain in relation to the size of the animal.Relative to its body, a crow's brain and a primate brain are comparable. The rats did outperform the humans in the second task. When the research team compared the protocadherins in octopus to those that were previously found in squid, they found some pretty big differences in their genes. Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in Philosophy, University of Oxford. But even this might not tell the whole story. Cephalopods – squid, octopus, cuttlefish and nautiluses – have been around for millions of years. Smart species. It’s not just cephalopods, of course: lots of non-humans are intelligent too. As it turns out, the octopus genome is almost as large as a human’s and actually contains more protein-coding genes: 33,000, compared with fewer than 25,000 in humans. In humans, this gene is important for normal cognitive development. Other questions demand a hearing. It shows an octopus pulling two halves of a coconut shell together to … Comparing octopus intelligence to mammal intelligence is a dubious proposition, but the point is, they're really freaking smart.) What else?One female octopus was observed "blowing carefully modulated jets of water from her funnel to send [a pill bottle] to the other end of her aquarium, where the water flow sent it back to her. How about their memories?Octopuses can remember humans, says Josh Rothman at the Boston Globe, and "have particular human friends and nemeses." We do not know. A mounting pile of evidence suggests that the eight-armed sea creatures exhibit a number of "human-like" tendencies that put them on the same intellectual plane as the wilier house pets. On these difficult questions, there is very little consensus. According to Professor John Marzluff at the University of Washington's Aviation Conservation Lab, a crow is essentially a flying monkey. 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