495907882

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

5 Things You Didn't Know Climate Change Could Do

Climate change has some complex effects that you may not even realize exist. Read on to learn more.

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.

Shipwreck Causes Environmental Crisis in Indian Ocean

A wrecked ship southeast of nearby island Mauritius is spilling oil into the Indian Ocean. Known for its pristine beaches and coral reefs, Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency.”

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!

What Fat Bears and Astronauts Have in Common

The mysteries around hibernating bears have intrigued curious children and researchers alike for ages. What is hibernation, what causes it and aren’t bears too big to truly hibernate? And probably most interestingly - could humans do this someday?

Fishermen and Scientist Develop Rope-less Gear to Save Whales

Fishermen are testing alternative rope-less gear in order to help an effort to save the critically endangered whale species.

Believed-Extinct Rio Apaporis Caiman Rediscovered

The believed-extinct Rio Apaporis caiman (Caiman crocodilus apaporiensis) has been captured by Forrest Galante, wildlife biologist and host of Animal Planet’s EXTINCT OR ALIVE, and team, making history once again.

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.

First Marine Biologist to Win Prestigious Conservation Award

A woman has become the first marine biologist to win a $250,000 environmental prize for her work on preserving seahorses.

Underwater Noise Pollution Strikes the Wrong Chord

Meet Morgan J. Martin, PhD, a marine scientist who studies underwater sounds with whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Morgan observes how these marine creatures – also known as cetaceans – many of which navigate their underwater habitats through echolocation.