The Coconut Octopus and Its Tools


Recently, scientists from Museum Victoria in Melbourne released papers and video footage of the Veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, using tools. The octopus, also called a coconut octopus, was viewed digging up halved coconut shells, carrying them around, and combining them with other coconut shells to form a full-sized coconut hideout. The surprised scientists explained that the simple act of using objects for shelter wasn’t a form of tool use, but that the act of carrying a coconut shell up to 20 meters and combining it with another coconut shell to provide shelter was taking the behavior a step further. To further add to the already complex behavior, the octopuses would dig coconut shells out of the sand on the ocean floor, empty the shells with jets of water, stack two empty shells hollow-side up on the sea floor, then carry the shells in a unique manner.

Below is a video of the previously described behaviors:

During my junior year of college, I did an extensive research project on octopus and their relatives the squid and cuttlefish. I read various papers of the “coconut octopus”, but this is the first video I’ve seen. All octopus are capable of complex behaviors, and this is certainly just a small example of how intelligent these cephalopods really are.


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