I don’t know why this is so funny, but researchers from Australia’s University of Sydney have learned that octopuses can and do “throw” things, often at each other, and apparently for reasons that human beings would recognize:
“In one instance, the researchers watched a female octopus repeatedly launch silt at a male that had been trying to mate with her, with the male frequently ducking to avoid the hits.… Octopuses also threw the remains of their meals and materials to clean their dens. There was even a case where they hurled silt towards one of the researchers’ cameras, and another two cases where throws hit fish.”
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Underwater GoPro footage revealed that the octopuses gather items, like shells, algae, silt or other debris, using their tentacles and float them in front of their siphon. (The siphon, the blue organ in the image below, is an octopus’ propulsion system; it’s a funnel near their head that they can blast water out of, both to propel themselves and help steer.) Then they blast the object with their siphon, sending it towards their intended target in a cloudy eruption.
Their aim isn’t fantastic—given hydronamics and the shape of the thrown objects, they’re not going to be striking out Aaron Judge—but they do successfully launch the objects away from them. “Most throws do not hit others,” said Professor Godfrey-Smith, who led the study. “Only a minority of cases appear to be targeted. I’d speculate that a lot of the targeted throws are more like an attempt to establish some ‘personal space’, but this is a speculation, it’s very hard to know what their goals might be.”
Here’s what it looks like:
“Generally,” the report soberly notes, “females were more likely to throw than males.” On top of that, they’ve noticed a correlation between body color and both aggression and accuracy: “”Octopuses that displayed uniform colour (dark or medium) threw significantly more often with high vigour, while those displaying a ‘pale and dark eyes’ pattern threw more often with low vigour. Throws by octopuses displaying uniform body patterns (especially uniform dark patterns) hit other octopuses significantly more often than in other body patterns.”