A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Is An Octopus’s Signal in his Shade?

Behold the Octopus. The James Bond of the sea. Ringo Starr once wrote:

I’d like to be
Under the sea
In an Octopus’s garden
In the shade

They pinned a romantic story on him about Octopi being aesthetic collectors. But an Octopus’s garden is no more than the leftovers, the bones, spines and shells, outside a den. Of course, a true romantic could counter that an Octopus picks aesthetic food…

The question I would ask is: does an octopus gesture? First, let us say that the term gesture originated in the distinction between voice and gesture, or oralité et gestualité as the French would say. The pair together refer to our total of communication means. It functions as a rough division of all the ways in which we create meaning for eachother. Since an octopus does not talk we could say that all his signaling behaviour falls under gesture. But that would be a fairly useless statement, unless we add that gesture is reserved to behaviour that is intended to communicate.


Make my day, punk.

At fUSION Anomaly, some gladly accept the linguistic status of the Octopus’s signaling. They even feel it is superior to our own language, which as we all know is strictly limited to our tiny mouths.

What do they do exactly? They change colour and texture (see explanation of chromatophores), they may use polarization of light. But why? Often the colour and texture changes are camouflage, but chey can also indicate arousal and/or threat.

I find it all rather amazing. But then I saw what cuttlefish can do…

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1 Comment

  1. Jeroen Arendsen

    Check out the Mimic Octopus. It will disguise himself as a poisonous fish or predator if enemies are spotted.

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