Animal cognition: the cat and the octopus

This week’s issue of Nature reports that the octopus genome is almost as large as that of humans, and it contains a greater number of protein coding genes. Neurobiologist Benny Hochner from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel has studied octopus neurophysiology for 20 years: “It’s important for us to know the genome, because it gives us insights into how the sophisticated cognitive skills of octopuses evolved. Researchers want to understand how the cephalopods, a class of free-floating molluscs, produced a creature that is clever enough to navigate highly complex mazes and open jars filled with tasty crabs.” The video above, which comes with the Nature article, shows (among other things) an octopus opening a jar. Here is a video of our cat Willy doing the same thing: opening a jar with food for him. Willy can also open refrigerators. We had to attach a kids’ lock to our refrigerator to prevent him from robbing our dinner. 

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