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Nature. 2005 Feb 10;433(7026):595-6.

Neurobiology: motor control of flexible octopus arms.

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Department of Neurobiology and Interdisciplinary Center for Neuronal Computation, Institute of Life Sciences, Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


Animals with rigid skeletons can rely on several mechanisms to simplify motor control--for example, they have skeletal joints that reduce the number of variables and degrees of freedom that need to be controlled. Here we show that when the octopus uses one of its long and highly flexible arms to transfer an object from one place to another, it employs a vertebrate-like strategy, temporarily reconfiguring its arm into a stiffened, articulated, quasi-jointed structure. This indicates that an articulated limb may provide an optimal solution for achieving precise, point-to-point movements.

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