What is it like to be an octopus or squid? Can animals be aware of everything they feel? How would a brain, which is completely unlike a human brain, perceive the world?
The ocean is the origin of the mind, or in other words, the earliest fuzzy form of the mind was formed in the ocean. Peter Godfrey-Smith, a Philosophy of Mind researcher obsessed with diving, focuses on exploring from an evolutionary perspective how consciousness is generated from the body of an organism, and how animals evolve subjective experiences, that is, animals The special feeling of being this animal. When the representative of this mammal covered with rubber meets a cephalopod that is also curious about him in the sea, matter and mind are drawn to each other at the physical level, and it also brings a difference in the study of the relationship between body and mind. A new understanding in the sense of the other.
Cephalopods animals smarter
on toward their present form during the evolution of the body, another shift in cephalopods body also occur: Some cephalopods smarter.
”Smart” is a controversial word, so we’d better understand this change carefully.
First, these animals have evolved huge nervous systems, including larger brains. How big is it? A real octopus (common octopus) has more than 500 million neurons in its body, which is a huge number by almost any standard. Although humans have more neurons (as many as 100 billion), octopuses are smaller, similar to many smaller mammals (such as dogs). The nervous system of cephalopods is much larger than that of any other invertebrates.
Absolute size is important, but relative size usually tells us more useful information.
Relative size refers to the ratio of brain volume to body volume. Through this ratio, we can know how much an animal “invests” in its brain. It can be compared by weighing, and only counts the neurons in the brain. Even if measured in this way, octopus scores are also very high, although not as good as mammals, it is probably within the range of vertebrate scores.
However, biologists believe that measuring size can only provide us with a rough guide to understanding the brain power of animals. Some animals have very different brain structures, with more or less synapses, and different synapses in complexity. In recent studies on animal intelligence, the most surprising finding is that some birds are very smart, especially parrots and crows. In terms of absolute size, the brains of birds are relatively small, but their brains are very strong.
When we try to compare the brain power of two animals, we also find a problem: there is no single and reasonable standard to measure intelligence.
Animal habitats and survival methods are different, so each has its own strengths. We can use the toolbox analogy: the brain is like a toolbox for controlling behavior. The toolboxes of different industries in the human world have some common elements and many kinds. In animals, all the toolboxes we find include some kind of perception (although different animals collect information in different ways): all (or almost all) bilaterally symmetrical animals have some kind of memory mode and learning method, so that they can Use past experience to deal with current experience, and sometimes their toolbox also contains the ability to solve problems and plan. Some animal toolboxes are more complex and more energy-consuming on the whole, but more toolboxes can be very sophisticated in different ways. For example, one kind of animal may have stronger senses, and another kind of animal may have more complex learning abilities. Different animals can survive on different toolboxes.
When we compare cephalopods and mammals, this lack of a single measurement standard makes the research more difficult.
Octopus and other cephalopods have extremely delicate eyes, roughly similar in structure to our humans. The two evolutionary experiments of large-scale nervous systems have also evolved similar visual mechanisms, but the nervous systems behind those eyes have very different structures. When biologists observe a bird, a mammal, or even a fish, they can associate many parts of the brains of two different animals with each other, because the brains of vertebrates all share a structure. But when we compare the brains of vertebrates and octopuses, all the corresponding parts disappear, and there is no corresponding part between them and our brains. Indeed, octopus does not even concentrate most of the neurons in the body inside the brain, but mostly on the wrist.
In summary, we finally understand that the best way to understand how smart octopuses are is not to compare, but to observe what they can do.
Octopus to do those incredible things
octopus most famous anecdotes is about the escape and theft, such as aquarium octopus will suddenly attack on the aquarium next door at night to get food.
These stories do not highlight the high intelligence of octopuses, except that they sound interesting. Although it takes a bit of effort to get in and out of the aquarium next door, the aquarium itself is not much different from the tide pool. I have discovered an even more fascinating behavior: At least two aquarium octopuses have learned to turn off the lights-they spray water at the bulbs to short-circuit the lights when left unattended. At the University of Otago in New Zealand, the behavior of octopuses spraying water to short-circuit the lights added too much cost to the experiment, and the experimenters had to release them into the wild. A laboratory in Germany also encountered the same problem. These behaviors of octopus do seem very clever.
However, we can also explain this behavior from a more everyday perspective. Octopuses don’t like bright light and will spray water jets on anything that annoys them. Therefore, the act of spraying water jets at the lights may not require much explanation. When there are no humans to observe them, octopuses are more inclined to roam far away from their caves and spray water jets at the special object of light bulbs.
On the other hand, the two similar stories I read gave the impression that octopuses can understand very quickly whether their actions are feasible, such as whether it is worth preparing to be in place and aiming at the bulb to short-circuit it. It should be possible to design an experiment to test which of these different interpretations of octopus behavior is more accurate.
The following example illustrates a more general fact: octopuses have the ability to adapt to a special captive environment and can interact with the breeder.
Almost all octopuses in the wild live alone, and most octopuses have little social life. In the laboratory, they can often quickly understand how to live in a new environment. For example, people have long discovered that octopuses can recognize different breeders and show different behaviors accordingly. Over the years, many laboratories have reported similar stories, but at first they were only regarded as anecdotes.
Still in the laboratory in New Zealand where octopuses keep turning off the lights, an octopus hates one of the laboratory staff for no apparent reason. Whenever she passed the corridor behind the aquarium, the octopus would spray nearly 2 liters of water from behind her to her neck. In the laboratory of Shelly Adamo at Dalhousie University in Canada, there is a squid that sprays water at every new visitor to the laboratory, but it does not spray water at the regular visitors of the laboratory. In 2010, an experiment confirmed that giant Pacific octopuses can indeed recognize different people, even under uniform clothing.
The philosopher Stephen Linquist once studied the behavior of octopuses in a laboratory. He said: “When you study fish, they don’t know that they are in an unnatural environment like an aquarium. But octopuses are completely different. They know that they are in this special environment and that you are outside the aquarium. All their actions are affected by the fact that they are in captivity.” Lin
The octopus studied by Quest would mess up his aquarium, and even manipulate and test the aquarium. He once encountered a problem: his octopus would deliberately put his wrist into the outlet valve of the aquarium to block the water flow, perhaps to raise the water level. Then the entire laboratory was flooded.
Joan Boll of Millersville University in Pennsylvania also told me a story that can explain Linquist’s point of view. Bor is known as one of the most rigorous and critical cephalopod researchers. She is known for her meticulous experimental design. She insists that we can only assume that cephalopods have “cognition” or “thinking” if the results of the experiment can be explained in the simplest way.
Like many researchers, Bor also has many stories about cephalopods, which present the inner thoughts of these animals with puzzling phenomena. One of them has been haunting her mind for more than 10 years.
Octopus likes to eat crabs, but the laboratory usually feeds them thawed shrimp or calamari. Octopus will take some time to adapt to these second-rate foods, and will eventually adapt. One day, Bol was walking through a row of drain boxes, feeding each octopus a piece of thawed calamari. When she reached the end, she went back the same way. However, the octopus in the first aquarium seemed to be waiting for her. The octopus did not eat the piece of squid that he got, but held the food in an eye-catching way. Bor stood, saw octopus slowly swim to the aquarium through a discharge valve
that side, all the while staring at Bor. When it reached the drain valve, it still stared at Bor, then threw the piece of calamari into the drain.
Along with all other stories of octopuses spraying water at the experimenter, Bol’s story reminded me of an event I had seen with my own eyes. Octopuses that are locked up sometimes try to escape, and when they escape, they can always choose exactly when the experimenter hasn’t noticed them. If you put an octopus in a bucket of water, it sometimes seems to stay in the water at ease, but as long as you don’t pay attention, even for only 1 second, you will see the octopus quietly outside the bucket when you look back. Climbing on the ground.
I always thought I was over-imagining the behavior of octopuses until I listened to a lecture by David Schell, who studies octopuses full-time, a few years ago. Schell also noticed that the octopus seemed to be able to notice whether he was observing them in a subtle way, and would run away when he hadn’t noticed them. I think this can be regarded as the natural behavior of octopuses. After all, octopuses will choose to escape when the fierce and eye-catching barracudas have not noticed them, instead of fleeing in the wake of their attention. But the octopus can perform these behaviors on humans (whether wearing a scuba mask or not) so quickly, it is still very impressive.
After the accumulation of these kinds of stories, we have another explanation for the good and bad experimental results of octopuses in standard learning experiments.
It is generally believed that the reason why octopuses do not perform well in these standard experiments is that the behavior required by the experiment is not the natural behavior of octopuses. But the octopus behavior in the laboratory environment shows that these “unnatural behaviors” are not difficult for them to achieve. An octopus can turn the jar to get the food in it, and there have been octopuses being photographed opening the jar from the inside-there is no more unnatural behavior than these. I think the problem with the standard learning experiment is that these scientists think that octopuses are interested in behaviors such as constantly pulling the lever to get sardine rewards and eating the second-rate food piece by piece. Rats and pigeons may do this, but octopuses will not. They are not good at devouring, they take a long time to process each piece of food, and they may not be full, so they tend to lose interest in this behavior. In contrast, for at least some of these octopuses, it may be more interesting to drag the lamp from the top of the aquarium back into the hole, and spray water at the researchers.