the plural of octopus is not octopi -- 4/08/16

Today's selection -- from The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. The amazing anatomy of octopuses:

"The scientifically correct plural [of octopus] is not octopi, [but octopuses] ... (it turns out you can't put a Latin ending -- i -- on a word derived from Greek, such as octopus). ... Here is an animal with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot, and ink like an old­-fashioned pen. It can weigh as much as a man and stretch as long as a car, yet it can pour its baggy, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. It can taste with its skin. ... Most fascinating of all ... octopuses are smart. ...

Close up of suckers

"Their mouths are in their armpits -- or, if you prefer to liken their arms to our lower, instead of upper, extremities, between their legs. They breathe water. Their appendages are covered with dexterous, grasping suckers, a structure for which no mammal has an equivalent. And not only are octopuses on the opposite side of the great vertebral divide that separates the backboned creatures such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish from everything else; they are classed within the invertebrates as mollusks, as are slugs and snails and clams, animals that are not particularly renowned for their intellect. Clams don't even have brains. ...

"A giant Pacific octo­pus -- the largest of the world's 250 or so octopus species -- can eas­ily overpower a person. Just one of a big male's three-inch-diameter suckers can lift 30 pounds, and a giant Pacific octopus has 1,600 of them. An octopus bite can inject a neurotoxic venom as well as saliva that has the ability to dissolve flesh. Worst of all, an octopus can take the opportunity to escape from an open tank, and an escaped octo­pus is a big problem for both the octopus and the aquarium. ...The giant Pacific octo­pus is one of the fastest-growing animals on the planet. Hatching from an egg the size of a grain of rice, one can grow both longer and heavier than a man in three years.



Sy Montgomery


The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness


Simon & Schuster Ltd


Copyright 2015 by Sy Montgomery


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