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Many Brains But No Bones: Octopuses and Their Relatives

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, January 25, 2024 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0329
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Octopuses and other cephalopods draw our interest with a magnetic, almost mystical pull. They are jet-propelled rockets, instantaneous shapeshifters, and master tacticians. They embody an incredible contradiction: at once deeply alien and intimately familiar.

Their bodies seem nothing like our own (they have zero bones, nine brains, three hearts, and blue blood), but their minds, if we can agree that these exist, seem strangely similar to ours. Octopuses exhibit curiosity, creativity, even cross-species companionship. How did such recognizable traits come to exist in a lineage of animals that diverged from our ancestors over 500 million years ago?

Dive deep with Danna Staaf into the evolutionary history of cephalopods—octopuses, squids, cuttlefish, and the mysterious nautiluses—to discover how we came to share today’s world with this astonishing diversity of clever and colorful creatures. Staaf, a marine biologist and author who's been obsessed with octopuses since age 10, debunks myths (octopuses did not come from another planet), explains factoids (what does "nine brains" really mean?), and provides linguistic justification for any plural you prefer (octopi, octopuses, octopodes). She’s the author of The Lives of Octopuses and Their Relatives: A Natural History of Cephalopods.

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Inside Science