WNPR

Are You Smarter Than an Octopus?

Dec 28, 2016

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the Kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or  Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating.  Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or, that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be? 

The octopus was the only invertebrate included in the “Cambridge Decision of Consciousness,” a 2012 declaration by scientists expressing consensus on animal consciousness. But what does consciousness mean in an octopus and how does  it drive the relationships Sy Montgomery and Dr. David Schell have with these alien beings?

Scientists wonder if humans can even begin to understand the intellect and mystery of the octopus. 

So, should we be eating octopus?

GUESTS:

  • Sy Montgomery is the author of nearly 20 books for adults and children including, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
  • David Scheel is a marine biologist and behavioral ecologist at Alaska Pacific University. He has a forthcoming book on the behavioral ecology of marine animals
  • Silvia Killingsworth is managing editor at The New Yorker

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on August 26, 2016.