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Octopus Games

Octopus.

(Beckmannjan, Wikimedia Commons)

Did you know that octopuses have been seen engaging in play behavior?

"Play" is tough to define, but all human beings know what it feels like. For example, children chase each other around just for laughs.

Puppies and kittens play, too. Even full-grown dogs understand what playing is, as any dog lover can tell you. Some ornithologists believe that birds play as well.

However, biologists have suggested that it takes a sophisticated kind of intelligence to play, and octopuses have sophisticated intelligence.

Octopuses can figure out mazes, learn by watching each other, even open jars to get at food. Few people realize how intelligent an octopus is.

Marine biologist Roland Anderson and animal behaviorist Jennifer Mather reported recently that when they dropped an empty Tylenol bottle in an octopus tank, the animal started squirting the bottle gently away into a circulating current that would send it back again. An activity similar to that of throwing and catching a ball.

They were able to interest several octopuses in this game, one of them for over half an hour.

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