Octopus specimens are notorious for their indifference towards their lovers. But a new study about the larger Pacific striped octopus has revealed that the species is surprisingly sexual and romantic.
Now field experts are questioning whether the mating behavior they’ve long known about is the normal, common one, or if it’s just the only one that researchers have managed to observe for a very long time.
What is considered normal mating behavior among octopus species leaves a lot to be desired in the way of physical contact. The male octopus has a spoon-like end on one of his tentacles. He uses it to insert some sperm into the female octopus’ reproductive tract, then takes off to attend to other things.
But a team of researchers from the University of California (Berkeley) recently made a shocking discovery – they found two (2) larger Pacific striped octopi mating beak-to-beak (the cephalopod equivalent of face-to-face). The animals were locked together, tangled in tentacles and suckers.
Roy Caldwell, a member of the department of integrated biology from the University of California, gave a statement to CBS News saying that his octopus species “is the only one we know that does that”. However, the discovery of one species with an atypical behavior is enough to get the scientific community to question current research.
It’s worth mentioning that Caldwell has been studying octopus species for decades and has never encountered this type of mating until now.
Another thing that’s unique about the larger Pacific striped octopi is that females mate multiple times in their six (6) to 8 (8) months dedicated to the mating cycle. The working theory is that they switch between mating and caring for a previous clutch of eggs.
Caldwell also explained the species atypical sexual behavior by saying that the female is most likely going to be in her shell or her den, with her eggs behind her. She has a defensive posture that consists in setting the entrance of her shell with her mouth, and with her suckers facing outward.
This means that when a male comes up or approaches her, his suckers and his mouth are going to be facing towards her, which results in the two of them coming together “beak to beak, sucker to sucker”.
But the atypical behavior doesn’t stop here. Caldwell observed larger Pacific striped octopi couples sharing food and living together, in the same den. Theses behaviors have never been seen before in any octopus species.
As if their unique sexual behavior wasn’t enough, its preparatory behavior si also new to field experts – it resembles that of the tiger’s. Caldwell said that the larger Pacific striped octopi is the only octopus species that appears to be stalking its prey.
What the creatures do once they spot a shrimp is crawl towards it, extend a tentacle up and over the shrimp, and successfully trap it where they wants it. The last thing they do is grab it with one of their suckers, or, if that fails and scares the shrimp, the prey will unknowingly “run” in the opposite direction and end up straight into the octopus’ arms.
The findings were published earlier this week, on Wednesday (August 13, 2015), in the journal PLOS One.
Image Source: giantcuttlefish.com