If an octopus’ tentacles can stick to anything, why don’t they ever stick to themselves?
A couple of researchers were thinking about cephalopods, when an intriguing question struck them – If an octopus’ tentacles can stick to anything, why don’t they ever stick to themselves?
Compounding the issue is that each arm operates independently, negating the possibility that there’s some master inner working keeping movements coordinated and timed.
Soon after, a research team got to work.
For their experiment they used the dismembered arms of recently deceased specimens.
The arms continue live for about an hour after being disarticulated, so they had a short window of time to get to the bottom of the mystery.
They noticed that the arms reached out and latched on to just about everything they had access to, except for the other arms.
Suspecting that an anti-stick power resided somewhere in the skin, they took it off of one of the test limbs.
Sure enough, the remaining arms made an attempt to latch onto it.
Just to be certain that the skin was emitting some sort of chemical deterrent, the scientists covered a plastic lab bowl with some of it.
Once covered, the severed arms steered clear of it. The secret of octopuses’ non self-stick abilities is apparently a molecule in their own skin. More research is needed to determine exactly which chemicals are involved.