HomeNews & LifestyleHow Many Brains Does An Octopus Have To Work All Those Arms?

How Many Brains Does An Octopus Have To Work All Those Arms?

Octopus Are Impressively Complex and Intelligent Creatures

As human beings with only two arms, we have a hard enough time knowing what to do at any given moment. How do you prioritize what’s important? Can you imagine how an octopus feels? If we have one brain to operate two arms, how many brains does an octopus have to operate eight of them?

The octopus is one of the most fascinating creatures in the sea. Have you seen “My Octopus Teacher“? It’s just incredible the level of sentience these eight-armed sea beasts are capable of.

The more we learn about the ocean, the more we realize how little we know. However, octopus have been the subject of research for many decades, and we do know quite a bit about them.

In addition to having blue blood, three hearts, and a donut shaped brain, these remarkably intelligent animals continue to surprise us with just how cool they are.

How Many Brains Does An Octopus Have?

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: @nanapatyitaly on Instagram

Octopus have eight arms; we know this. However, did you know that each of those arms has its own brain? In addition to having a “mini brain” for each arm, these incredible cephalopods also have a central brain that puts everything else together and essentially controls the “master system”.

Scientists give octopus a lot of credit for their brain:body ratio. This helps to prove, in addition to a couple other factors, that they are a highly intelligent species. Their brain is huge in relation to their body… and that’s just the centralized brain!

So when you take into consideration that they actually have nine brains, you can start to wrap your own brain around just how intelligent these eight-armed beauties really are.

Why So Many Brains?

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: @sttuceus on Instagram

One of the reason that octopuses have nine brains is so each of their eight huge arms has a mini brain. This allows each arm to act independently of one another.

In addition to the fact that octopuses like to play and use tools, we also know that each arm operates with its own agenda. For example, if an octopus is gliding over a surface and there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore, the mini-brains of each arm are all looking for food on their own. It’s like each arm is an agent on a mission to feed the central unit.

This distribution of brain power also takes a big load off the central brain. This donut-shaped central processing mechanism has 180-million neurons. This wide distribution of synapses and cells is then connected to more than 40 million neurons in each of the eight arms.

So, how many brains does an octopus have? Nine, each of them with their own function, and their own agenda to keep this glorious creature alive and thriving.

But The Weirdness Doesn’t Stop There: How Many Hearts Does An Octopus Have??

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: on Instagram

The octopus has three hearts and blue blood running through its veins and all its arms.

The three hearts all have slightly different roles. One heart is there to circulate blood around the body. The other two pump it past the gills and help it pick up oxygen.

Similar to the way that the octopus has a central brain and eight other mini brains, the central heart fulfills the main role of a pumping heart, and the other two take care of the intricate respiratory system.

They’re Blue Blooded Creatures

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: @mitxel_uwphoto on Instagram

Their blood is blue because of the protein haemocyanin, which distributes oxygen around the octopus’s body. This particular protein contains copper rather than iron like we have in our own blood.

The copper-based protein is more efficient at transporting oxygen in cold and low-oxygen conditions. Because of this, it’s ideal for life in the ocean. If the blood becomes deoxygenated, like if the animals dies, it turns clear and quickly loses the blue colour.

Octopus Are Masters Of Using Tools

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: @fordivers on Instagram

In addition to the question around how many brains does an octopus have, you may be wondering what the big deal is with using tools.

Here’s the thing: tool use is quite rare in the animal kingdom. It’s something we tend to associate with apes, monkeys, dolphins, and some birds. Overall, the use of tools is a great indicator of the ability to learn and adapt, also known as cognitive sophistication. In the invertebrate kingdom, only octopuses and a few insects are known to use tools.

Overall, these fascinating creatures continue to capture our single hearts and single brains in awe of their intricacy and outstanding intelligence.

Related: This cephalopod cognitive test reveals that octopus and cuttlefish may be even smarter than we realize. 

how many brains does an octopus have
Image: @oroszzoltan on Instagram


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