OCTOPUS VULGARIS

495907882

OCTOPUS VULGARIS

Photo by: TheSP4N1SH

TheSP4N1SH

Do Octopuses Dream?

New footage shows a sleeping octopus changing colors, indicating the creature may be dreaming.

October 12, 2021

In a new PBS video, a napping octopus changes colors, leading scientists to believe that the animal is camouflaging itself to the environments in its dream.

Octopuses are highly intelligent creatures. With a brain-to-body ratio similar to that of mammals, octopuses are capable of high-order cognitive behaviors like problem solving and tool use. They can unscrew lids, open jars, and break into child-proof containers. These brilliant animals have even been reported escaping aquariums and finding their way back to sea and taking apart the plumbing of their own tanks.

Like mammals, octopuses go through alternating quiet and active sleep stages. Similarly to how a human's breathing and heart rate increases during dreams in REM sleep — in active sleep, an octopus’s skin changes color, their bodies twitch, and their suckers retract.

Unlike humans, however, active sleep for octopuses does not last very long.

"If they are dreaming, they are dreaming for up to a minute," said Sidarta Ribeiro, a neuroscientist at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.

Likely, octopuses’ dreams are not very complex given how short their bursts of active sleep are. The scientists liken these dreams to short video clips or gifs, only a few seconds to a minute long.

"For around 40 seconds, [octopuses] dramatically change their color and their skin texture. Their eyes are also moving," said Sylvia Medeiros of the Brain Institute at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte. "All of this happens very conspicuously."

These invertebrates cycle through active and quiet sleep stages every 30-40 minutes.

To confirm the animals were actually sleeping, the scientists performed a series of visual and tactile stimulation tests. The researchers checked to see if the octopuses would respond to a favorite food item like a swimming crab, or to vibrations made by tapping on the glass. In each instance, the octopuses required a stronger stimulus to produce a reaction than when they were awake, confirming that the observed behavior was indeed sleeping.

In future studies, researchers want to explore the link between octopuses’ dreams and their extreme intelligence, thinking, and learning.

Next Up

Whale and Krill Populations are the Secret to Healthier Oceans

Oceans rely on their largest species, especially whales, to recycle and regenerate ecosystems. Studies at Stanford University identify the whale as an animal that recharges its own food sources and recycles carbon. Now researchers think they have found a way to seed plankton and krill numbers that will boost whale populations and restore fading sea life.

Watch Out! There's a New Ocean on the Block

A new ocean has been added to the list. The Southern Ocean becomes the fifth ocean to be officially recognized on the world map.

The Ocean is Too Loud for Marine Life

Marine life is asking you to turn the music down - when you’re around or in the ocean- please!

This Mighty Fish Loses 20 Teeth Everyday, Then It Grows Them All Back

That’s the equivalent of a human losing and growing back a tooth every day.

The Highest Animal on the Food Chain: Megalodon Sharks

The now-extinct megalodon and its ancestors may have been "hyper apex predators," higher up on the food chain than any ocean animal ever known.

How Frogs Boost Their Sex Appeal

Male frogs form ‘boy bands’ to serenade females and woo them into their mating pool.

If A Bat Were To Bite You In Your Sleep, You'd Probably Never Know

Rabies is rare, but most cases are associated with bats.

Coral Reef Survival Relies on Gene Science and Lower Emissions

Coral reefs across the world are under threat as global warming raises sea temperatures and the oceans become more acidic from absorbing carbon dioxide. While nations work to reduce industrial greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, helping coral to adapt to changing conditions could provide welcome relief for affected reefs.

99% of Sea Turtles are Now Born Female. Here's Why.

Global warming is creating a crisis in sea turtles' gender ratios, where 99% of them are being born female. Sea turtle populations have been facing a significant population decline further exasperated by climate change.

An Otterly Adorable Awareness Week

Our southern sea otters at Georgia Aquarium are furry, energetic, and (of course) adorable. They spend most of their days swimming, playing, and eating, but most importantly they inspire our guests to care for our world’s waters.