Cephalopods Quotes

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If we want to understand other minds, the minds of cephalopods are the most other of all.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life)
Cephalopods are an island of mental complexity in the sea of invertebrate animals. Because our most recent common ancestor was so simple and lies so far back, cephalopods are an independent experiment in the evolution of large brains and complex behavior. If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
It says something about this relationship that I'm a cephalopod shifter, but you're the weird one.
M. Caspian (Kraken)
There is another important difference as well. Human eyes have three visual pigments, allowing us to see color. Octopuses have only one—which would make these masters of camouflage, commanding a glittering rainbow of colors, technically color-blind. How, then, does the octopus decide what colors to turn? New evidence suggests cephalopods might be able to see with their skin.
Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness)
This is the most direct route from the mouth into the mantle, where the stomach and other organs lie, but as you might imagine, swallowing through your brain can be risky.
Danna Staaf (Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods)
Analogies fail, but I am capable of behaving like an eight-armed cephalopod while protesting the innocence of my two hands on the table.
Jeanette Winterson (Gut Symmetries)
Cephalopods are evolution’s only experiment in big brains outside of the vertebrates.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
What would a captive cephalopod know of joy?
Shelby Van Pelt (Remarkably Bright Creatures)
Those redshift numbers. The cephalopods must be leaving at close to light speed.” “Where do you think they are going?” “Maybe that isn’t the point, Maura. Maybe the point is what they are trying to flee.
Stephen Baxter (Time (Manifold #1))
an octopus may have half a billion nerve cells distributed between its brain and its “arms” (a mouse, by comparison, has only 75 to 100 million). There is a remarkable degree of organization in the octopus brain, with dozens of functionally distinct lobes in the brain and similarities to the learning and memory systems of mammals. Not only are cephalopods easily trained to discriminate test shapes and objects, but some can learn by observation, a power otherwise confined to certain birds and mammals. They have remarkable powers of camouflage and can signal complex emotions and intentions by changing their skin colors, patterns, and textures.
Oliver Sacks (The River of Consciousness)
And maybe a hundred billion cephalopod minds, out in the Trojans, just light-minutes apart, have become something—” “Transcendent.
Stephen Baxter (Time (Manifold #1))
cephalopods.
Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea)
A Cephalopod Wish by Stewart Stafford O, to be an Octopus, Sporting three hearts, Two that won't break, To go on and love more. O, to have its nine brains, To spread a migraine load, Fogless coordinates clear, A tower fire, now contained. O, to have a boneless form, A body fitted to life problems, Not ail from a tumour's grasp, Flee to safety in inky clouds. © Stewart Stafford, 2023. All rights reserved
Stewart Stafford
It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees.
H.P. Lovecraft (Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft - 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links(Complete Collection Of Lovecraft's Fiction,Juvenilia,Poems,Essays And Collaborations))
Why don’t we all live for a longer time? On mountainsides in California and Nevada there are pine trees that were alive when Julius Caesar was wandering around Rome. Why do some organisms live for dozens, hundreds, or thousands of years while others, in the natural course of events, do not see even a single year pass? Death from accident or infectious disease is no puzzle; the puzzle is death from “old age.” Why, after living for a time, do we fall apart? This question is always lurking as the birthdays pass, but the short lives of the cephalopods make it vivid. Why do we age?
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life)
blue whale, the ocean is not blue. Cone cells are unique to vertebrates, but other animals have wavelength-specific photoreceptors that play a similar role. Surprisingly, the cephalopods—octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish—have just one class of these, which means they are also monochromats.[*2] They can rapidly change the colors of their skin yet are unable to see their own shifting hues.
Ed Yong (An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us)
Evolution built advanced minds not once, but at least twice, gifting them not only to mammals and their kin, but also to cephalopods, and especially to the animal at the apex of ocean intelligence: the octopus. These are animals so unlike us that most aliens we imagine in our fantasies about outer space have more in common with humans. But there is no denying their sentience. I believe the first aliens we encounter will rise to greet us from the sea.
Ray Nayler (The Mountain in the Sea)
Cephalopods are an island of mental complexity in the sea of invertebrate animals. Because our most recent common ancestor was so simple and lies so far back, cephalopods are an independent experiment in the evolution of large brains and complex behavior. If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over. This is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
Recently scientists have found that cephalopods (the family that contains the octopus) can recode their RNA. RNA molecules have the privilege of establishing codes with DNA (in the part of the RNA that recognizes the three-nucleotide DNA codon sequence) and also with proteins (in the separate part of the RNA that recognizes the amino acid). Recoding the RNA means that new proteins can be constructed while the DNA sequence of symbols stays the same. The collective result is the destruction of the one-to-one gene-to-protein correspondence. Recoding allows a single octopus gene to produce many different types of proteins from the same DNA sequence.18 This is a big deal. It is evidence against the three concepts in biology that dismiss semiotic systems in living organisms. The system can change its code. The system has an internal codemaker that can produce biological innovations—new proteins—but not via natural selection. It illustrates the arbitrariness of the connection of a symbol with its meaning in a living system. If symbols within living systems
Michael S. Gazzaniga (The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind)
All of this could fall flat, feel too much like a caricature of a Sicilian trattoria, if the food itself weren't so damn good: arancini, saffron-scented rice fried into crunchy, greaseless golf balls; polpette di pesce spada, swordfish meatballs with a taste so deep and savory they might as well be made of dry-aged beef; and a superlative version of caponata di melanzane, that ubiquitous Sicilian starter of eggplant, capers, and various other vegetation, stewed into a sweet and savory jam that you will want to smear on everything. Everything around you screams Italy, but those flavors on the end of the fork? The sweet-and-sour tandem, the stain of saffron, the grains of rice: pure Africa. The pasta: even better. Chewy noodles tinted jet black with squid ink and tossed with sautéed rings and crispy legs of calamari- a sort of nose-to-tail homage to the island's cherished cephalopod. And Palermo's most famous dish, pasta con le sarde, a bulge of thick spaghetti strewn with wild fennel, capers, raisins, and, most critically, a half dozen plump sardines slow cooked until they melt into a briny ocean ragù. Sweet, salty, fatty, funky- Palermo in a single bite.
Matt Goulding (Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy's Food Culture (Roads & Kingdoms Presents))
In 2012 a group of prominent neuroanatomists, cognitive neuroscientists, neurophysiologists, and ethologists released the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. The declaration sought to establish, once and for all, that mammals, birds, and even some cephalopods, like octopi, are conscious creatures with the capacity to experience emotions.
Laurel Braitman (Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves)
If the students were taught about shuttle flights, plate tectonics and submarine volcanoes, they were also immersed in the traditional myths of their culture—the ancient story, for example, of how the island of Pohnpei had been built under the direction of a mystical octopus, Lidakika. (I was fascinated by this, for it was the only cephalopod creation myth I had ever heard.
Oliver Sacks (The Island of the Colorblind)
Interestingly enough, it is now known that play behaviour is not limited to birds and mammals. Monitor lizards, turtles, crocodiles and even fish and cephalopods have been reported to engage in behaviours that do not seem to serve any other purpose than simply having fun.27,28 If all these animals could play, we are certain that Mesozoic dinosaurs could, too.
John Conway (All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals)
Space is for the cephalopods, Maura. It never was meant for us.
Stephen Baxter (Time (Manifold #1))
By all rights, cephalopods should be running the show and we should be their pets. What we have that they don’t have is neoteny. Our secret weapon is childhood.
Jaron Lanier (You Are Not A Gadget)
Later, on the basis of this and subsequent experiments, under Theo’s guidance, Karen wrote her first published paper, “The Cryptobiotic Characteristics of Specific Cephalopodic Scavengers on Eridan.
Helen Mary Hoover (The Rains of Eridan)
THE TALKING FISH My love's eyes are red as the sargasso With lights behind the iris like a cephalopod's. The weeds move slowly, November's diatoms Stain the soft stagnant belly of the sea. Mountains, atolls, coral reefs, Do you desire me? Am I among the jellyfish of your griefs? I comb my sorrows singing; any doomed sailor can hear The rising and falling bell and begin to wish For home. There is no choice among the voices Of love. Even a carp sings.
Ruth Stone (Essential Ruth Stone)
How, then, does the octopus decide what colors to turn? New evidence suggests cephalopods might be able to see with their skin. Woods Hole and University of Washington researchers found the skin of the octopus’s close relative, the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, contains gene sequences usually expressed only in the retina of the eye. Assessing the mind of a creature this alien demands that we be extraordinary flexible in our own thinking. Marine biologist James Wood suggests our hubris gets in our way.
Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness)
And people protested. They protested the bans and they protested and they protested the Cad and they mobbed anyone with tattoos of leaves or ferns or cephalopods. No one realized that the infection was cryptic, then dormant, then heritable from either parent. And so it spread, named and considered an epidemic at first- a flash in the pan, like Ebola or Zika or Covid, that would eventually burn-out – and near the end more or less endemic.
Premee Mohamed (The Annual Migration of Clouds (The Annual Migration of Clouds #1))
Think about it. Look at what it took for intelligence to emerge in Nature. Today is Monday. If the 3.8 billion years life has thrived on Earth equated to 38 days, then for over a month all we had around here were microbes. “Complex, multicellular life arose last Wednesday. Dinosaurs came in on Friday. Sometime this morning, around 1am, a meteor struck and the best part of an entire phylogenetic clade was pushed to extinction. Those few avian dinosaurs that did survive went on to supply us with deep fried chicken and scrambled eggs.” I can’t help but smile at Avika’s compressed take on the history of life on Earth. “Mammals have been around at least since Sunday, but they were little more than rodents most of the time. That rock from space cleared out vast swathes of the ecosystem, and mammals rushed to fill the gap. “Every multicellular creature has some degree of intelligence, or at least instinct, but it wasn’t until some point in the last hour that the wisest of men, Homo sapiens arose, and yet even then, intelligence was little more than a desperate struggle for survival. “For the last seven minutes, or roughly two hundred thousand years, our intelligence extended little further than chipping at rocks to make stone knives. “In the last thirty seconds, we’ve been on a bender. We’ve built pyramids, sailed the oceans and landed on the Moon!” I say, “So your point is, human intelligence is the pinnacle of evolution?” “Oh, no. Not at all. There’s plenty of intelligence in the animal kingdom, especially among mammals, birds and cephalopods, but it took 3.8 billion years before intelligence could exploit its own ingenuity and blossom in its own right. “If all our intellectual accomplishments are the result of the last thirty seconds, then perhaps creating artificial intelligence isn’t quite as easy as busting out some Perl scripts.” I
Peter Cawdron (Hello World)
Each sucker on an octopus’s arm may have 10,000 neurons to handle taste and touch. Even an arm that has been surgically removed can perform various basic motions, like reaching and grasping. How does an octopus’s brain relate to its arms? Early work, looking at both behavior and anatomy, gave the impression that the arms enjoyed considerable independence. The channel of nerves that leads from each arm back to the central brain seemed pretty slim. Some behavioral studies gave the impression that octopuses did not even track where their own arms might be. As Roger Hanlon and John Messenger put it in their book Cephalopod Behaviour, the arms seemed “curiously divorced” from the brain, at least in the control of basic motions.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
Suffice it to say, there has been a noted tendency in crustaceans and cephalopods retrieved from the deep ocean to be of far greater than usual size, though suggested explanations for this range from lower temperatures to food scarcity and are not generally agreed upon. All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the deep sea might be dark, but that doesn’t make it uninhabited
Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea)
She pours boiling water into her cup, adds white foam from a jar. She doesn’t really want to drink this but she has to do something. To pass the time she begins to classify Elizabeth, a familiar exercise by now. If she had Elizabeth on a shelf, nicely ossified, the label would read: CLASS: Chondrichthyes; ORDER: Selachii; GENUS: Squalidae; SPECIES: Elizabetha. Today she classifies Elizabeth as a shark; on other days it’s a huge Jurassic toad, primitive, squat, venomous; on other days a cephalopod, a giant squid, soft and tentacled, with a hidden beak. Lesje knows scientific objectivity is a fraud. She’s read the stories of plunder and revenge, of evidence stolen from one scientist by another, of the great dinosaur hunters who bribed each other’s workmen and attacked each other’s reputations. She knows that passion for science is like any other passion. Nevertheless she wished scientific objectivity really did exist and that she could have some of it. Then she would be able to apply it to her own life. She would become philosophical and wise, she would be able to cope with Elizabeth in some way more adult, more dignified than this secret game, which is after all little better than juvenile name-calling.
Margaret Atwood (Life Before Man)
What would a captive cephalopod know of joy? I will never again know the thrill of a wild hunt in the open sea. I will never bask in a silver shimmer of moonlight as it filters down through the water from an endless midnight sky. But I have knowledge. To the extent happiness is possible for a creature like me, it lies in knowledge.
Shelby Van Pelt (Remarkably Bright Creatures)
Fiorito’s lab was arranged with two rows of tanks lining a central walkway, one octopus in each tank. (Octopuses are generally not social creatures and can even be cannibalistic.) On this particular day, David had chosen a tank in the left-hand row, about halfway along. When I walked in to see what was going on, I was astonished to see all the octopuses on the other side of the walkway pressed up against the glass of their tanks, every one of them staring intently at David while he repeatedly lowered his objects into his chosen tank. The observing octopuses seemed to be trying to figure out what was going on for no other reason than the sheer interest of it. Being among octopuses, even for a short time, left me with an impression of an intelligence, and a conscious presence, very different from any other – and certainly very different from our own human incarnation. This of course was a subjective impression, necessarily tainted by the biases of anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism, and open to the charge of taking intelligence as a sign of sentience. But the octopus is objectively remarkable too, and spending some time with them can push our intuitions about how different a non-human consciousness might be. The most recent common ancestor of humans and octopuses lived about 600 million years ago. Little is known about this ancient creature. Perhaps it was some kind of flattened worm. Whatever it looked like, it must have been a very simple animal. Octopus minds are not aquatic spinoffs from our own, or indeed from any other species with a backbone, past or present. The mind of an octopus is an independently created evolutionary experiment, as close to the mind of an alien as we are likely to encounter on this planet. As scuba-diving philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith put it, ‘If we want to understand other minds, the minds of cephalopods are the most other of all.
Anil Seth (Being You: A New Science of Consciousness)
Cuttlefish are relatives of octopuses, but more closely related to squid. Those three—octopuses, cuttlefish, squid—are all members of a group called the cephalopods. The other well-known cephalopods are nautiluses, deep-sea Pacific shellfish which live quite differently from octopuses and their cousins.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
Indeed, the nervous system of the octopus, thought to be the most intelligent invertebrate, is comprised of approximately half a billion neurons, more than six times the number in a mouse brain. Additionally, like humans, dolphins, and elephants, octopuses have a brain with a folded surface, ostensibly to pack in more neurons in a confined space, in contrast to the smooth-surfaced brains of other cephalopods, mice, rats, and marmosets. Thus although octopuses don’t have cortical regions associated with ToM, they have an exceptionally large brain capacity and may have evolved to solve the problem of ToM using different anatomical strategies.
David J. Linden (Think Tank: Forty Neuroscientists Explore the Biological Roots of Human Experience)
M" Mnemosyne’s silent M drives me to the dictionary Her baby sister makes an n run. Youth does not tarry Those diaphanous, luminescent water jellies, Mnemiopsis, small as sneezes, I can only conjure as Knee me up, Sis Spelling? Easier to recall these beauties as invasive carnivorous, cannibalistic, and hermaphroditic (They eat each other and fuck themselves) Mnemonic is a device that helps me remember birthdays and phone numbers of those I no longer love but can recall in traces Or how to sequence pi to a thousand places as Guinness names me a mnemonist. Or my own birthday because my mother died the day before Just a handful of words end in mn, and the soul they limn: autumn, solemn, damn, condemn, the a capella hymn But hundreds contain mn. A standout: that Jurassic cephalopod, belemnite, long gone, yet its name and phallic fossil live on And should those Siamnese twins stand at the head, they’re led by a vowel that takes m by the hand and leaves n to bed another syllable. Amnesia. You are what you forget Still, the mother of all muses has a name hard to set Mnemiopsis, mnemonist, mnemonic, Mnemosyne— such elegance I should be able to recall: these words all begin with silence Perhaps her name once began with A: Out one day, bathing carefree in the Aegean, she fell for a creature she could feel but not see— say, a tentacled jelly—got entangled with the beast, lost the A, Tore her chiton, and returned in disarray Zeus said, Where’s the A I gave you on the birth of Calliope? She, recalling his trysts, yet savoring her berth, wanted no scene Saw in backward glance, the gem wedged in coral’s gritty teeth A’s so plebeian. Words are rife. Alcmene, Europa, Hera, adultery Few can spell my name yet spell I cast when lives are spent I am the Titan Mnemosyne, Goddess of All Memory, and off she went leaving Zeus to rue her gift and curse Yet wise manager, was hers not the golden purse?
Laura Glen Louis
The vodka isn't laced with arsenic," said Lyla. "He's simply picturing life in a far-off galaxy, where a group of eight-armed cephalopods have gathered around a supper table to share in their last meal before riding off into the sunset. But, of course, they'll need at least two sedans for all those tentacles.
Erika Simms (Flies in the Punch Bowl)
If we can make contact with cephalopods as sentient beings, it is not because of a shared history, not because of kinship, but because evolution built minds twice over.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness)
I think it’s some sort of octopus or squid,” Adaora said. “Chale, those things are smart,” Anthony said. Adaora had been thinking the same thing. Cephalopods were the smartest invertebrates on earth. One that was alien-enhanced . . . Those men didn’t stand a chance.
Nnedi Okorafor (Lagoon)