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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2010;13(3):261-72. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2010.483892.

Octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini) recognize individual humans.

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The Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, Washington, USA.


This study exposed 8 Enteroctopus dofleini separately to 2 unfamiliar individual humans over a 2-week period under differing circumstances. One person consistently fed the octopuses and the other touched them with a bristly stick. Each human recorded octopus body patterns, behaviors, and respiration rates directly after each treatment. At the end of 2 weeks, a body pattern (a dark Eyebar) and 2 behaviors (reaching arms toward or away from the tester and funnel direction) were significantly different in response to the 2 humans. The respiration rate of the 4 larger octopuses changed significantly in response to the 2 treatments; however, there was no significant difference in the 4 smaller octopuses' respiration. Octopuses' ability to recognize humans enlarges our knowledge of the perceptual ability of this nonhuman animal, which depends heavily on learning in response to visual information. Any training paradigm should take such individual recognition into consideration as it could significantly alter the octopuses' responses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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