(wow) Words Of Wonders Level 1830 Answers – “Sy Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus does for creature what Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk did for birds of prey.” —New Statesman, United Kingdom
In this stunning book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus – an incredibly complex, intelligent and spiritual creature – and the extraordinary bonds it forms with humans.
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Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 article in Orion magazine, Deep Intellect, about his friendship with a sensitive and sweet octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at his death went viral and showed the fascination these animals have in common. mysterious, almost alien creatures. Since then, Sy has been practicing true dive journalism, from the aquarium tanks of New England to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, following these wild, solitary shapeshifters. Octopuses have different personalities and intelligences that manifest themselves in different ways: endless tricks to escape enclosures and get food; throw sparkling water to bounce objects like balls; and dodging goalkeepers by using a net as a springboard and running across the floor with eight arms. But with a parrot’s beak, a snake’s venom and a tooth-covered tongue, how could such a creature know anything? And what thoughts might he have?
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The intelligence of dogs, birds and chimpanzees has only recently been recognized by scientists, who are now establishing the intelligence of octopuses by helping them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery shows this growing appreciation for the octopus, but also tells a love story. Funny, entertaining, poignant and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.
On a rare, warm day in mid-March, as New Hampshire snow melted into slush, I drove to Boston, where everyone was strolling along the harbor or sitting on benches licking ice cream cones. But I traded the blessed sunlight for the dark, dark sanctuary of the New England Aquarium. I had an encounter with a giant Pacific octopus.
I knew little about octopuses – not even that the scientifically correct plural isn’t octopus, as I’d always believed (it turns out you can’t put a Latin suffix – i – on a Greek-derived word like octopus). But what I did know intrigued me. Here is an animal with venom like a snake, a beak like a parrot and ink like an old-fashioned fountain pen. He can weigh as much as a human being and be as long as a car, but he can throw his wide, boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. It can change color and shape. He tastes it with his skin. Most interesting of all, I read that octopuses are smart. This confirmed the little experience I already had; like many who visit octopuses in public aquariums, I often felt that the octopus I was watching was watching me, with as much interest as I did.
How can it be? It’s hard to find an animal that looks more like a human than an octopus. Their bodies are not organized like ours. We go: head, body, limbs. They go: body, head, limbs. Their mouths are in their armpits – or, if you prefer to compare their arms to our lower limbs rather than our upper limbs, between our legs. They breathe water. The appendages are covered in nimble suckers, a structure for which no mammal has an equivalent.
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And not only are octopuses on the other side of the great vertebral divide that separates vertebrates such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish from all others; they are classified within the invertebrates as molluscs, as well as snails, snails and clams, animals not exactly famous for their intellect. Mols doesn’t even have a brain.
More than half a billion years ago, the bloodline that would lead to octopuses split from that that would lead to humans. Was it possible, I thought, to reach another mind beyond that gap?
Octopuses represent the great mystery of the Other. They seem completely alien, and yet their world – the ocean – contains much more earth (70% of the surface; more than 90% of habitable space) than land. Most of the animals on this planet live in the ocean. And most of them are invertebrates.
I wanted to meet the octopus. I wanted to play an alternate reality. I wanted to explore a different kind of consciousness, if such a thing exists. What’s it like to be an octopus? Is it like being human? Is it even possible to know?
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So when the aquarium’s public relations director met me in the lobby and offered to introduce me to Athena the octopus, I felt like a privileged visitor from another world. But what I began to discover that day was my own sweet blue planet – an extremely strange, surprising and wonderful world; a place where, after half a century of living on this earth, mainly as a naturalist, I would finally feel at home.
Athena’s goalkeeper is not there. My heart sinks; not just anyone can open the octopus tank, and for good reason. A giant Pacific octopus – the largest of the world’s approximately 250 species of octopus – can easily overwhelm a person. Just one of a large male’s 8-inch-diameter suckers can lift 30 pounds, and a giant Pacific octopus has 1600. An octopus bite can inject both a neurotoxic venom and saliva that has the ability to dissolve flesh. Worst of all, an octopus may take the opportunity to escape from an open tank, and an octopus escape is a major problem for both the octopus and the aquarium.
Fortunately, another hobbyist, Scott Dowd, wants to help me. Scott is a large man in his mid-forties with a silver beard and sparkling blue eyes. He’s a longtime hobbyist at the Freshwater Gallery, just down the street from Cold Marine, where Athena lives. Scott first came to the aquarium as a baby in diapers on opening day, June 20, 1969, and has never really left. He knows almost every aquarium animal personally.
Athena is about two and a half years old and weighs about 40 pounds, Scott explains as he lifts the heavy lid covering her tank. I climb the three short steps of a small escalator and lean forward to watch. It extends to about five meters in length. Its head – by “head” I mean both the head and the mantle, or body, because we mammals would expect it to be the head of an animal – is the size of a small watermelon. “Or at least honeydew,” says Scott. “When it first came out, it was the size of a grapefruit.” The giant Pacific octopus is one of the fastest growing animals in the world. From an egg the size of a grain of rice, a human can grow taller and heavier than a human in three years.
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By the time Scott opened the gas cap, Athena had already poured out of the far corner of her 560-gallon tank to investigate us. Caught in the corner with both arms, she wraps herself around the others, her whole body flushed with excitement, and makes her way to the surface. His white nipples are up, like the palm of a person holding out a hand.
“Sure,” he says. I take off my watch, my scarf, roll up my sleeves, and dip both arms up to my elbows in the shockingly cold 47°F water.
Twisted, gelatinous, his arms boiling with water, looking for mine. Immediately my hands and forearms are engulfed in dozens of soft, curious pincers.
Not everyone would like that. Naturalist and explorer William Beebe found the touch of the octopus repulsive. “I always struggle before I get my hands to do their job and grab a tentacle,” he confessed. Victor Hugo imagined such an event as an absolute horror that would lead to certain destruction. ‘The ghost is upon you; the tiger can only eat it; the horrible devilfish sucks its blood’, wrote Hugo in Zwoegers van de zee. “The muscles swell, the tendons of the body tremble, the skin splits under the horrible pressure, the blood erupts and mixes horribly with the lymph of the monster, which clings to the victim with countless horrible mouths. . . . The fear of the octopus is deeply rooted in the human psyche. “No animal is more savage in causing the death of man in the water,” wrote Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia about AD 79. ..
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But Athena’s suction is gentle but persistent. It draws me in like an alien kiss. His melon-sized head rises to the surface and his left eye—octopi have a dominant eye, just like humans have dominant hands—turns into its eye socket to meet mine. Your black pupil is a thick line in a