Octopus talk | The Octopus News Magazine Online
  • Thanks for visiting! TONMO is the world's greatest online cephalopod enthusiast community, with interactive content going back to May of 2000, and a biennial conference. If you'd like to join in on the fun, become a TONMO member -- it's easy and free. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more cephy goodness.

Octopus talk

asid61

GPO
Registered
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
113
#1
I have read about gorrilas and non-human primates "talking" through a sort of sign language; could octopuses do that?
They probably don't live long enough to learn, but what about arctic octopus or GPOs?
Has anyone done studies on this?
 

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 9, 2009
Messages
2,833
Location
South Florida
#2
I don't think life span is the main issue. I'm don't think an octopus has enough intelligence to pick up language. They have no where near the intelligence of a gorilla. They are smart when compared to other invertebrates but when compared to all animals they don't have very high intelligence.
 

ckeiser

GPO
Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
120
#5
I wonder if anyone has tried to set up some associative learning with cephalopods. Anyone on here ever try to associate a certain behavior in their house ceph with a reward, or a response to some hand signal? This would be a start to one form of interspecific (ceph-human) communication. I do think, however, that life span would influence the success of such an endeavor.
 

DWhatley

Certified Ceph Head For Life
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
20,007
Location
Gainesville, GA
#6
I have convingly work out "go away" signals with any of mine that would interact with my hand but I would not call that talking.
 

ckeiser

GPO
Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
120
#7
I would consider that communication. Signaling is signaling, and what you're describing sounds like a functional transfer of meaningful information. However, I have a "broader" view of animal communication than most behaviorists.
 

DWhatley

Certified Ceph Head For Life
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
20,007
Location
Gainesville, GA
#8
I am going to try to work out a more difficult signal with Diego (bimac). My other octos learned to use the simple ones within a day or two after they started interacting (I have always used something that they do naturally to avoid touch but make sure they see the cause and effect). This attempt will be far more difficult because I want to try color changes. Since I don't chase, he can go to his den anytime but I won't withdraw my hand unless he turns all brown. I am not even sure he can fully control this but it should be interesting.
 

CaptFish

Colossal Squid
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 9, 2009
Messages
2,833
Location
South Florida
#9
Hold on a minute. The original question was can octopuses learn sign language,
I have read about gorrilas and non-human primates "talking" through a sort of sign language; could octopuses do that?
I fully agree that they attempt to communicate with us but the fact is we don't know exactly what they are saying and they have absolutely no idea what we are saying. so while I agree there is some communication going on, it is no where near sign language or talking. also I thing there us. Basic communication through behavior and speaking/signalling a specific language are completely different. That's my:twocents:
 

ckeiser

GPO
Supporter
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
120
#10
D: Very cool, please keep us informed :)

Dave: I think there are routes one must take to "work their way" up to sign language with another species. Obviously, we would have to take a different path when trying to teach a cephalopod as opposed to the aforementioned non-human primates that share our pentadactyl morphology.
 

DWhatley

Certified Ceph Head For Life
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
20,007
Location
Gainesville, GA
#11
I am not sure if I am getting somewhere or it is just wishful thinking but I should be able to tell by the end of next week
 

devi

Blue Ring
Registered
Joined
Jun 24, 2009
Messages
49
#12
ckeiser;176881 said:
I wonder if anyone has tried to set up some associative learning with cephalopods. Anyone on here ever try to associate a certain behavior in their house ceph with a reward, or a response to some hand signal? This would be a start to one form of interspecific (ceph-human) communication. I do think, however, that life span would influence the success of such an endeavor.
Karen Pryor, the inventor of the clicker, taught a hermit crab to ring a bell, so I see no reason why a ceph couldn't learn stuff. All you'd need was a signal, marker, and reward. I can't find the story online but it's in the first chapter of 'Don't Shoot the Dog' and there's enough info in there to recreate the experiment, might be worth getting a copy from a library.
 

Neogonodactylus

Haliphron Atlanticus
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Messages
662
#13
There is a rich 100 year history of researchers such as Young, Wells and Boycott studying learning and discrimination in octopus. Everything from sensitization and habituation to associative and spatial learning has been examined. However, nothing approaching the use of sign language or other forms of "talking" has been demonstrated.

Roy
 

Members online

Monty Awards

TONMOCON IV: Terri
TONMOCON V: Jean
TONMOCON VI: Taollan
TONMOCON VII: ekocak

About the Monty Awards