Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Everyone Likes Pie!...Octopi I Mean.

Happy Tuesday! It has been a happy Tuesday, really! This morning I spent a record amount of time in the lab at work (90 minutes) and kind of knew what I was doing? I put a question mark there because I really want to say that I knew what I was doing but if I do I might curse myself. Then tomorrow and for the rest of my days in research I will forever be oblivious to anything and everything. Hence, the question mark.
In hindsight, I think I will be glad I did this whole chemistry research thing. Now, however, I don't think I have it in me to appreciate the life lessons. I'd rather be in my house, watching TV, and drinking some sweet tea. Oh, that sweet tea sounds nice...Still, I wouldn't get anything accomplished doing that. I've heard that any task worth completing must take some sort of sacrifice. The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the sacrifice. (It's a direct proportion, even though I wish it were indirect.) 
I never talk about octopuses (I prefer to say octopi, because it's fun), so I think this is what we will talk about today! Be prepared for some cool stuff. These guys have the most amazing tactics in defense and even offense. 
First off, hopefully most everyone knows that they have 8 arms/tentacles (octopus) and suckers all throughout the bottom of these arms. Some species of octopi and squids have small razor sharp teeth on their suckers. That would definitely leave a mark...ouch. Their life spans are pretty short, but they are extremely smart. Their brains are huge, if you haven't seen the size of their head compared to their whole body. All of this is cool, but I think they have something that's even better.
They're called chromatophores. Because of chromatophores, which are all over the cephalopod's skin, they can change colors in a flash. Some scientists even think that color changing is being used by these animals for communication! In the picture on the right, this tiny octopus is using its chromatophores to camouflage itself, which is mostly what these skin pigments are used for. 
There are these other things on the octopus's skin called iridiophores. They pretty much mirror the animal's surroundings to help further camouflage themselves. It's all a very complicated and beautiful system of defense. 
And, another cool thing about them, they have a beak. Yes, like a bird's beak. No one ever sees it since said beak is underneath their tentacles on the bottom part of their head. But don't get any ideas the next time you see an octopus or squid. If you want to see that beak, you better wait until it's dead on a dissecting table. Those things are sharp! 
I hope you enjoyed the octopi! Talk later!


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