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Did an octopus write this?



Then enter the comparative psychologists.

Nicola Clayton did not start studying squid. She is a professor at Cambridge and has built her career around the remarkable behavior of the flounder, a small blue-black bird that stores food for later. In 1998, she and colleagues showed that birds can remember how long it has been since the hidden foods. They can plan for the future and store food in places where they have reason to believe they will be hungry later.

Their behavior is more sophisticated than just learning that food appears if you press a button or recognize a pattern, something that many animals can do. Apart from monkeys and other corvids, like crows, few studied animals so far have the full portfolio of mental abilities that these birds demonstrate.

But squid and other squid can be an exciting test case. When squid and squid hunt take, they do not take the same route two days in a row, marine biologists have observed. Christelle Jozet-Alves, a comparative psychologist, wondered if that meant they had a memory like corvians who were able to relive what had happened to them in the past. In 2013, she published with Dr. Clayton and a collaborator conducted a terrific squid study that suggests they did. Dr. Clayton, Dr. Schnell and their colleagues have begun to ask: Does squid have a sense of the future and the recent past? Can they make decisions about what they think is likely to happen in the future?

Octopuses have long amazed observers with their apparent canniness – in a YouTube clip with more than 2 million views, an octopus pushes up coconut shells and hands them over, perhaps to use them later as a tool. Octopuses also have large brains and sophisticated behavior. But squid fish are easier to grow in the laboratory than squid and easier to work with than squid, which are often pristine and may refuse to engage with an experimenter, said Dr. Fast.

Of course, there is also the Houdini factor.

“You get little runaway artists with squid. You come in in the morning and it does not matter how close you have closed an aquarium tank, you find them crawling out, ”she said.


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