From the Dec 2008 Scientific American article, One World, Many Minds: Intelligence in the Animal Kingdom:
Behavioral studies show that octopuses can distinguish and classify objects based on size and shape, much as rats do. They can learn to navigate simple mazes and to solve problems, such as removing a tasty food item from a sealed container. In 1992 two Italian neuroscientists, Graziano Fiorito of the Dohrn Zoological Station in Naples and Pietro Scotto, then at the University of Reggio Calabria in Catanzaro, published surprising evidence that an octopus can learn to accomplish a task by watching another octopus perform it. They trained octopuses to choose between a red ball and a white ball. If the octopus opted for the correct ball, it got a piece of fish as reward. If it selected incorrectly, it received a mild electric shock as punishment.
Once the training was completed, the investigators let an untrained octopus watch a trained animal perform the task from behind a glass barrier. The untrained animals did monitor the trained animals, as indicated by movements of their head and eyes. When allowed to select between the two balls themselves, the observer octopuses then made correct choices, which they could only have learned by watching. The ability to learn by studying others has been regarded as closely related to conceptual thought.
I am sure I have seen a video of this experiment somewhere, but I couldn't find it in the usual places, so I offer this one instead- not as profound in its implications, but still beautiful : )
Add a Remark