Coconut-Carrying Octopus Stuns Scientists

Homebuilding is first time tool use has been seen among octopi
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2009 3:26 AM CST

Australian scientists observing octopi on the sea floor near Indonesia were amazed to discover that the creatures scoop up coconut halves, empty them out, and carry them around to assemble into shelters. The behavior shows a surprising level of intelligence, the researchers say, and is the first recorded instance of tool use among octopi or any invertebrate creature.

"What makes it different from a hermit crab is this octopus collects shells for later use, so when it's transporting them it's not getting any protection from them," one of the scientists tells AP. "It's that collecting it to use it later that is unusual." The researchers believe the creatures once used shells in the same way before humans began cutting coconuts in half and disposing of them in the ocean. (Read more octopus stories.)

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