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J Comp Psychol. 1998 Sep;112(3):306-16.

How do octopuses use their arms?

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.


A taxonomy of the movement patterns of the 8 flexible arms of octopuses is constructed. Components consist of movements of the arm itself, the ventral suckers and their stalks, as well as the relative position of arms and the skin web between them. Within 1 arm, combinations of components result in a variety of behaviors. At the level of all arms, 1 group of behaviors is described as postures, on the basis of the spread of all arms and the web to make a 2-dimensional surface whose position differs in the 3rd dimension. Another group of arm behaviors is actions, more or less coordinated and involving several to all arms. Arm control appears to be based on radial symmetry, relative equipotentiality of all arms, relative independence of each arm, and separability of components within the arm. The types and coordination of arm behaviors are discussed with relationship to biomechanical limits, muscle structures, and neuronal programming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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