June 7th, 2007

Sweet Lips

Walking in the Ocean

I just saw a couple of news spots that have some ocean creatures using bipedal locomotion. One is a small species of octopus that was only using 2 of it's 8 legs to move around the ocean floor. It was really odd to watch. There was also another small species of shark that hunted small things like crab and shrimp on the ocean floor and 'walked' on its front fins to move around the ocean floor.

They also recently found a bottle-nose dolphin that had a small extra set of fins near it's back flipper, echoing it's 4-legged ancestory. It this a preview of coming attractions? According to scientists, octopus and squids give off various signs of communication (color and body language) and seem very advanced for the species. In the Animal Planet miniseries, The Future Is Wild, scientists predicted that in 200 million years there may be 2 species of land squids: small tree dwellers and large, lumbering land squids. I also heard that octopi also have done other intelligent things like when one in a lab was fed something it did not enjoy, it waited until the scientist/lab tech came back into the room before it uncioled its limb and slammed the food to the tank floor. Another was believed to committ suicide out of boredom. It was given nothing to do or play with so it hauled itself out of the tank and on to the floor, killing itself being out of water.

Is this another slow moving step in evolution? Are squids and octopi the next species to evolve intellectually? Are they smarter then we give them credit for now? Is bipedalism as important in the ocean as it is on land? Prior to getting the largest known brain to body size ratio, humans developed the ability to walk up right. Advanced legs came before advanced brains for humans but it may not translate as well in the ocean. Could it also be the octopus immitating what it already knows and has seen humans do?
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