In this piece for Quartz, Ephrat Livni explores our evolving attitudes toward octopuses, from initial fear and revulsion to contemporary respect and inquiry. Now, scientists are working to understand what octopuses may reveal about human behavior and intelligence.
“Scheel has been studying octopuses since 1995 and has come to see them as kind of reflection on humanity, illuminating behaviors we may take for granted. Take blushing, for example. People might not consider blushing, from embarrassment, say, to be a complex behavior. But when the marine biologist observes octopuses undergoing color changes, it causes him to reconsider the meaning of human color changes caused by emotion. As he explained to KTUU Anchorage, ‘They’re also complex animals with fascinating behaviors and so by studying them we can come to better understand how we got to be complex animals with our own fascinating behaviors.'”