Yesterday we told you about the innocent-looking guppy's ability to reproduce generations after its own death. Now, it turns out even more creatures have joined the ranks of the underwater undead: according to a report in Scientific American, researches have discovered that the tentacles of the octopus not only live on after being separated from its body, but they seem to have minds of their own. Now before you start counting down until Syfy's Octozombie goes into preproduction, here's the facts of the case:
Since most of the octopus's central nervous system is not in its brain but in its arms, scientists have learned that each tentacle has the ability to “think” on its own... and that doesn't necessarily stop if that tentacle is detached from the rest of the body (they also tend to grow back, but that's for another article). In an experiment conducted at St. George’s University of London and the Anton Dohrn Zoological Station in Naples, Italy, octopus limbs reacted to stimulus over an hour after they had been removed – recoiling from pressure or heat, for example. It's a reflex action, but not something you'd expect from the limb of a dead body.
“We are also likely to jerk our hand away after, say, touching a hot kettle,” explains SA's Katherine Harmon. “But imagine if human arms still did that after death – and after being cut off.”
The team's findings may lead to new precautions in studying octopus, squid and other cephalopod species, as it reveals new insights on the way the animals may experience pain.