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The Soul of an Octopus

A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

By Sy Montgomery
9-minute read
Audio available
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus (2015) is about a fascinating sea creature that few people appreciate. Octopuses may appear like alien creatures, with their tentacles and suckers, but in fact, they are brilliant, intriguing creatures.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Before I read these blinks, I had no idea that octopuses were such intelligent creatures. Far from being simple, unthinking blobs, they are superb problem-solvers with unique personalities.”

– Thomas, English Editorial Lead at Blinkist

  • People who may fear octopuses
  • Biologists and zoologists
  • Anyone interested in the underwater world

Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who has traveled all over the world researching animals. She’s written over 20 nonfiction books for both children and adults, including the bestselling title, The Good Good Pig.

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The Soul of an Octopus

A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

By Sy Montgomery
  • Read in 9 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 5 key ideas
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The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Synopsis

The Soul of an Octopus (2015) is about a fascinating sea creature that few people appreciate. Octopuses may appear like alien creatures, with their tentacles and suckers, but in fact, they are brilliant, intriguing creatures.

This is a Blinkist staff pick

“Before I read these blinks, I had no idea that octopuses were such intelligent creatures. Far from being simple, unthinking blobs, they are superb problem-solvers with unique personalities.”

– Thomas, English Editorial Lead at Blinkist

Key idea 1 of 5

Far from being fabled monsters of the sea, octopuses are intelligent, curious creatures.

Most people find octopuses frightening. The tentacles, suction cups and slimy texture of these sea creatures make them seem quite “alien.”

The idea of octopuses as frightening is partly cultural. Many American films have used octopuses or similar shapes that allude to these tentacled animals to create terrifying deep sea monsters.

Society’s view of octopuses as scary monsters has its roots in history. An ancient Icelandic saga called Orvar-Odds tells the tale of a tentacled beast that “swallows men and ships and whales and everything it can reach.”

Despite the bad rap, octopuses are fascinating and intelligent creatures!

Octopuses are the smartest of all invertebrates, or creatures with no backbone. Granted, some invertebrates, like clams, don’t even have a brain.

An octopus has a brain, although it is the size of a walnut. Yet with this small brain, these creatures can do incredible things, such as tell humans apart.

Seattle Aquarium researcher Roland Anderson performed an experiment in which he introduced an octopus to two different people. One person fed the octopus; the other poked it with a stick.

After just one week, the octopus could distinguish the two people by sight. The creature would move toward the person who fed it, and back away from the one who poked it.

Octopuses also crave intellectual stimulation. Without it, they look for something to do.

An octopus once flooded a room adjacent to its own by playing with the valves in its tank. These clever creatures search for entertainment when they're restless or bored.

Sometimes octopuses try to escape from tanks and explore. A researcher at the Marine Biological Station in Plymouth once bumped into an octopus wandering down the stairs, after having escaped from its tank!

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