Octopus limbs have a mind of their own



disembodied octopus arms react to threats in ways a severed human hand never could

Well not without the proper runes inscribed on the hand, sure!


This makes that dish of wiggly octopus arms an even worse thing to eat.


This raises the question of consciousness. Does an octopus feel pain in a limb that’s removed if part of his brain is in that limb?

Why, God, why can’t I escape “Spock’s Brain?”


  1. The octopus bartender in Who Framed Roger Rabbit had to go through training 9 times.
  2. One pair of arms could be honest, another pair could be shorting drinks.

I’ve got an anecdote that suggests this phenomenon extends beyond octopuses (warning: it’s a little gross). My brother and I were motorcycling through the Amazon and happened to see that a few villagers had recently killed a very large black caiman, and had completely removed its head, which was sitting off to the side. They continued to torment the head-less body and it was reacting appropriately. When a villager tried to cut the tail, the hind legs would try to push away the machete. The tail would also occasionally try to hit the assailant. It was surreal.

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Well, once you get beyond “this arm and the other one” to eight or more arms (or more than three dimensions - but I digress) a multi-compartmental neural net is the way to go. As my biographer wrote about the Velantians:

No human or near-human mind can rally understand how the mind of Velantian works. A Tellurian can, by dint of training, learn to do two or more unrelated things simultaneously. But neither is done very well and both must be more or less routine in nature. To perform any original or difficult operation successfully he must concentrate on it, and he can concentrate upon only one thing at a time. A Velantian can and does, however, concentrate upon half-a-dozen totally unrelated things at once; and, with his multiplicity of arms, hands, and eyes, he can perform simultaneously an astonishing number of completely independent operations.

The Velantian’s is, however, in no sense such a multiple personality as would exist if six or eight human heads were mounted upon one body. There is no joint tenancy about it. There is only one ego permeating all those pseudo-independent compartments: no contradictory orders are, or ordinarily can be, set along the bundled nerves of the spinal cord. While individual in thought and in the control of certain actions, the mind-compartments are basically, fundamentally , one mind.

Knowing this it makes sense why the octopus’s “main brain” is so large: it has to maintain centralized control over a set of smaller brains. They may be somewhat independent, but they can’t be fully independent. Otherwise the octopus could have a hard time going in a single direction.

It can’t be much longer until someone figures out how to control an octopus arm with an Android.

Spider-Man 2 was more realistic than many people gave it credit for.

Interesting Spiders and Octopus are in the 8 limbed catagory along with craps and lobsters. There could be a varied connection.

Those are squid arms.

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