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Jealousy, Murder and Gender-Bending: Octopus Sex is Bizarre

Category: Amazing world

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…

Jealousy, Murder and Gender Bending: Octopus Sex is Bizarre ecology
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.

Environmental Graffiti


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