Octopuses are up there with the brightest and brainiest in the animal kingdom. Although “brainiest” is perhaps a bit misleading, since the majority of their neurons are found in their tentacles, not their brain.
Just like us, their brains need stimulation, otherwise they can become reclusive, disinterested and sluggish – mirroring the symptoms we associate with depression.
Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco have come up with a novel way to fight boredom and keep the cephalopods' brains as supple as their squidgy tentacles. To do so, they create a puzzle for the octopuses by placing shrimp inside hamster balls. The puzzle can take up to one hour for an octopus to solve.
"Octopuses in general are highly intelligent and naturally inquisitive animals," said Patrick Lee, a biologist and husbandry manager at the California Academy of Sciences, to Live Science. "In the wild, they use this intelligence and their curiosity to help them solve problems and to look for food. Being in captivity, things can get a little bit boring at times."
There are many anecdotal instances of octopuses displaying intelligent behavior. Otto the octopus, for example, repeatedly spurted water at a light bulb that was bothering him, and Sid the octopus climbed out of his tank to steal crayfish, returning with his capture in tentancle and replacing the lid back on his tank.