Octopuses are masters of camouflage. They can trigger cells underneath the surface of their skin to change color. However, it might be that these soft-bodied creatures aren’t putting on a light show just to confuse predators. Recently, PBS released a mesmerizing clip of a sleeping cephalopod changing her color multiple times.
What makes it even more amusing is marine biologist Dr. David Scheel’s narration. He tries to guess what the octopus — Heidi — was dreaming about.
The video was taken from the documentary Octopus: Making Contact, which premieres on PBS on Oct. 2. It features Dr. David Scheel, a professor at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, and Heidi, the octopus he’s raised.
In the documentary, Heidi demonstrates her abilities of solving puzzles, using tools, and escaping through small spaces. She also seems to behave like a family pet, as she learns to recognize faces, getting excited when humans come near her tank. She even exhibits an inclination to play with Scheel’s daughter.
Octopuses typically activate their camouflage superpowers in response to changing conditions around them. So, does this video of a resting octopus’ color display mean that it’s dreaming about something? Maybe. Even though research into cephalopod sleep and dreaming has grown quite a bit over the years, there still isn’t enough evidence to say for sure if they dream the way we do.
“It’s been hypothesized that octopus species can exhibit something very similar to REM cycles in humans,” Sara Stevens, an aquarist with Butterfly Pavilion, told Live Science. “But the jury’s still out on whether they’re achieving REM sleep.”
Unlike humans, octopuses don’t have a centralized brain. Instead, they have multiple “brains,” their bundles of neurons are distributed in their limbs. This unusual nervous system gives octopuses precise control over their color-changing cells; however, that ability may not be entirely under their control all the time, Stevens said.
“There are no definitive answers to the questions: Are they dreaming? and What do they dream about?” she added.
Watch the video of this magical creature below
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