Aug 3, 2009
Jealousy, Murder and Gender Bending: Octopus Sex is Bizarre ecology” />
I’ll just quote from National Geographic for a lead here: “The study found that wild octopuses engage in “jealous murders,” gender bending, and once-in-a-lifetime sex—unlike their seemingly shy, unromantic captive brethren.” You wanna know more? Ok…
Headed to the swingers club, doubtless. Image from romsrini on Flickr
The sex life of the octopus has always been a little bit of a mystery to scientists– let’s face it, there’s an even chance that their own sex life is a mystery to you if you study octopus sex– largely because the ones in captivity are so loathe to bump uglies. It’s because of this knowledge gap that a team from UC Berkeley traveled to Indonesia to play voyeur, and were treated to a behavioral jackpot.
The male animals were jealously guarding their mates at almost all times, and when they perceived a challenge for her affection, they would simply strangle the other suitor to death with their tentacles. Perhaps more shocking, though, was the evidence of drag queens in the octopus community; smaller males, who would perhaps not be able to find a mate in open competition, disguised themselves as females by changing the colors of their skin, achieving a level of comfort before revealing themselves to be male.
The team points out that these are not a unique species of octopus, and therefore it can be conjectured that others behave in the same fashion. I have to wonder if the scientists didn’t stumble into some sort of octopus version of bacchanalia.