out of the blue

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by octokidwriter, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    dear octopusexperts

    i have been visiting this forum for a week now in search of ... well, let me explain my presence here first: i am currently doing research for a novel for kids, involving octopuses. it is going to be sheer fiction, but i do like to get facts right. And there are so many of them! not being a scientist in any way (not being a native English speaker also) I do admit i am getting lost in a maze of facts. My questions are very simple and presumably not interesting to people who know a lot. therefore i am seeking a kind knowledgeable person who can help me now and then. Anyhow, i'll be visiting this place regularly to pick up information, but it would be great to have someone in this huge aquarium to refer to in times of need.

    thanks

    Anna
     
  2. daddysquoc

    daddysquoc Wonderpus Registered

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    :welcome:

    well youve come to the right place! :smile: most everyone here can help you out, or knows someone who can.
     
  3. Lime

    Lime O. vulgaris Registered

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    Ask Jean. Jean knows everything lol. :)
     
  4. cthulhu77

    cthulhu77 Titanites Supporter

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    We actually have a number of authors on this site, and they will always bend out of their way to help out !

    Welcome!

    Greg
     
  5. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    :welcome: I think you can relax, we get a lot of people for whom English isn't a first language (and a lot of native speakers who seem to have even more trouble with it :tongue:) and we're very much used to questions that run the spectrum from "completely naive" to "you need a PhD to be able to understand the question well enough to say you don't know." I'm sure you'll find people happy to help you without being an imposition...
     
  6. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    thanks

    i'll probably end up bothering one of you three (or all of you three) with silly questions like: (to give a taste of what is to come:) is it true that an octopus with more than 90 arms has once been found?
    what is btw the best way to get my questions answered? Can i post them publicly? Though they are going to be silly... or can i write private messages to any of you?
     
  7. Lime

    Lime O. vulgaris Registered

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    You can write private messages, but I believe posting them publicly is a better idea. You will get answers from the whole community.
     
  8. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    hmm, this is going to be a strange new experience...

    thanks in advance for wanting to help out

    already feeling a little less lost

    i wasn't joking about that 90-armed octo btw...think such a species really existed?
     
  9. gholland

    gholland Haliphron Atlanticus Supporter

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    There have been a couple of octos documented with arm tips branching out of the 8 primary arms. They're not a distinct species, just a random (but fascinating) mutation.
     
  10. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    I'm with Lime on this, posting them publicly will be both more fun, and get a wider range of answers, and have a lot of eyes checking them for validity.

    As far as "90-arms" go, the only living cephalopod that naturally has 90 or so arms is the Nautilus, the last of the shelled cephalopod lineage. No one really knows how many arms the ancient nautiloids and ammonoids had, but there's some suspicion that the ammonoids probably had ten arms... squids, octos, cuttles, and the weird outlier Vampyroteuthis are all based on the ten-arm pattern (octos have lost a pair, but there's some evidence that they once had them.)

    There is, though, an unusual mutation of octopuses where the arms branch, see http://www.tonmo.com/community/index.php?threads/2091/

    (there's another pic somewhere, too.) Also, some 9-armed octo was in the news recently, but it was in a sushi restaurant in Japan IIRC, so it wasn't studied scientifically. I suspect extra arms in cephs are a somewhat common developmental effect, like cats with extra toes.
     
  11. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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    :welcome: Hope we can help you!
     
  12. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    If you can give an idea of what you want to say in your story (the factual part) and an idea of how it fits with the fantacy, it might help with the answers. Using this single thread for your questions (not posting a new one with each question) might also be helpful when you need to review as well as keeping the ideas in context. Some of us are over enthusiastic when it comes to books about octopuses and their cousins (fiction or non-fiction) so you should get a nice range of replies and some interesting discussion. Please also post when the book publishes as there is likely a native speaker in the crowd.
     
  13. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    thanks everyone, this is really fun

    i'll stick to this thread then for the time being

    however, i cannot for the life of me tell you all what i am writing about, i have always been very very superstitious when it comes to books still being written, so it was a huge step already to come to this forum and start asking questions "in public". As soon as it is born (the book), i'll make up for that. but knowing me, it might still take at least a year or more...

    here's one q that's been bothering me for a while: why keep octopuses as pets?


    thanks again

    anna
     
  14. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    An answer from a non-keeper may be less insightful, but I would like to give it a go, regardless...

    Octopuses fascinate us because they are fundamentally different from what we've come to expect as "normal". From a biology standpoint (copper rather than iron as oxygen carrier, no internal skeleton, living underwater etc.) as well as from behaviour: The octopus is a solitary animal that regardless of that fact posesses defined social skills: they interact rather enthusiastically with their tank-owners (no one owns another creature's life) and have a certain degree of recognizeable intelligence, as in memory skills and problem solving abilities. I also think that the two eyes in combination with the bulging mantle give off the impression of a human head of sorts, making the actual differences in ontogeny even more striking.
     
  15. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    I have been wondering too about this "copper as oxygen carrier". Are octo's the only animals with blue blood or are there others? and why blue? why exactly copper? i read that it made them tire out more easily and that they "used" copper because it is found at the bottom of the ocean. does this make sense at all?
     
  16. Taollan

    Taollan Vampyroteuthis Supporter

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    Your question makes perfect sense... here is my stab at answering it:

    Octopuses are one of many organisms that use copper-based blood (the molecule containing the copper is called Hemocyanin, analogous to hemoglobin in humans and other vertebrates, which contains iron). Essentially all other mollusks have copper-based blood as well (with a few odd-balls using iron-based blood, mostly hydrothermal vent critters), as well as arthropods (insects, spiders, crustaceans like crabs and lobsters) and some various worms. Really there are probably more species on earth today that have copper-based blood than iron-based.

    Why octopuses use hemocyanin (copper-based blood) rather than iron-based blood is a really big question that is very hard to answer simply. The best reason is probably because their ancestors did (other mollusks). But using copper based blood gives them a couple of advantages, one of which being that it can work better when the octopus is in low oxygen environments.

    Why is there blood blue? Well that is because copper is blue in the particular oxidation state (fancy phrase meaning how it is bonded to other things) of which octopus blood uses it to carry oxygen. Metals turn different colors depending on how they are bonded to other chemicals, like oxygen. Fort instance pennies appear the familiar "copper" color, because they are bound to a lot of other copper molecules. The Statue of Liberty, however, looks green, because the copper it is made of has "rusted" and bound to oxygen. The copper in octopus blood is bound to both a blood molecule (the hemocyanin) and an oxygen molecule, so it turns blue. You can see the same thing in your blood, with the iron in it. When the iron in your blood is bound to both oxygen and hemoglobin, it is red, but when the iron is not bound to the oxygen anymore (in your veins) it is blue. You may be interested to know that octopus blood when there is no oxygen in it (so when it is in the veins instead of arteries) is actually clear, and not blue.

    As for octopuses getting tired out more easily because of using copper-based blood, this is really blown out of proportion by most people. This is very true for a lot of other organisms that use copper blood (like crabs and such...) but octopuses and squid are such high performance animals (especially for invertebrates), that they have overcome more other the limitations of copper-based blood, and really it has performance comparable to some fishes.

    Ok, that is a very long response to all of that... if there is anything you don't understand, let me know and I explain it another way, or if you want to know anything else... just holler.
     
  17. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    Taollan said a lot there (:notworth:) but I'd add a couple of other details, just 'cuz:

    I doubt there's much more copper at the bottom of the ocean than iron. Something I've always found a bit peculiar is that octopuses, and many other invertebrates with copper-based blood, find very small concentrations of copper toxic. So it's an element that's vital for their survival, but they can't stand it. Of course, nitric oxide and chlorine are similar for humans: they're important for us to live but toxic when we breathe them.

    In both hemocyanin (sometimes spelled haemocyanin, for extra confusion) as in hemoglobin (haemoglobin) most of the molecule is a big structure made of the usual protein components, and there is just a big metal ion smack in the middle, that is very good at binding to oxygen-- in a probably-oversimplified example, a bar of iron will oxidize into rust, just as a bar of copper will oxidize into "verdigris." (confession: I don't know how much the fact that pure metals are easily oxidized is related to is use binding oxygen in blood... one difference is that in blood, the process is easily reversible, while you can't really "un-rust" metal easily.)

    Understanding "why copper" may often be a historical coincidence, too: some early organisms developed hemocyanin as an oxygen transporter, which gave it a huge advantage over something that didn't have it, and others developed hemoglobin, which also gave an advantage over just using oxygen dissolved in seawater or similar. Both types of animals could be more active, and larger, but there's no easy path for an animal of one ancestry to lose one of these transporters and gain the other (although, to be fair, a few molluscs have done that, apparently... I wonder if anyone knows the mechanism... transgenic / horizontal gene transfer? retrovirus? mutation?)

    Evolutionary genetics has a notion of "strongly conserved" characteristics, and in this case, the ability to efficiently transport oxygen is so vital to the survival of these animals that most changes away from their favored blood "pigment" are very much selected against, even if there is a "better" pigment that would work for... Evolution is usually about adaptation to "nearby" characteristics, and while the more radical changes make a bigger impression, they're not really the bulk of changes, and happen much more often in mass extinctions followed by species radiations. In the case of blood pigments, one might hypothesize that in a low-oxygen period, any animal that didn't have really good oxygen transport died out, and perhaps hemocyanin and hemoglobin were the only "good enough" systems for active animals, and after the oxygen came back, those two groups "radiated" with relatively small changes to take over all of the niches left when animals that used other pigments died out. Sometimes, the importance of a something in ancient history gets "locked in" as well: because the blood pigment was so important millions of years ago, now animals have very efficient systems and can be very wasteful of oxygen, by being active, smart, fast predators like cats, or fast and active fliers like hummingbirds, or cerebral big-brained primates like us. But in the current world, any species that doesn't have a good oxygen transport system is at a severe disadvantage compared to the ones who ran the gauntlet millions of years back, so any changes that move away from the "good" system are liable to make things worse before they make things better.
     
  18. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Is there another know oxygen carrier today besides hemocyanin and hemoglobin? If so what creatures use it?

    Why keep a octopus? I can't give you an answer but I will throw out some ideas that might weave their way into your imagination.

    From my observations of people looking at my various marine tanks, there are some people that have an immediate negative reaction the first time they see an octopus. You can almost see shivers and the reaction is much like people that are terrified of spiders or snakes (people terrified of spiders do not necessarily translate that to octos though, even with the eight arm similarity) . Then there are people like those who dwell here and the first reaction is total facination. I am not sure what makes the reaction so opposite. I can suggest that is it not familiarity with the ocean, however, as the diver/collector that caught my favorite pet was very much afraid of him and another diver/collector I know cannot understand why anyone would want to keep one. Fishermen consider them a nuisance and/or bait. The wife of the first (not a diver), however, was infatuated when Lynn caught and brought Octane home. My 9 year old granddaughter enjoys watching and feeding them and finally decided she wanted to pet mine, her teachers don't believe her, even with pictures (however, this was true of seahorses as well and they don't tend to have the negative reaction observed with the octo). Some people will describe them as "slimy" other as "soft" I would use "cuddly" but I don't think many others would agree to that adjective - but then again, we are seeing more and more stuffed animals and baby toys depicting friendly octos. Perhaps it has something to do with a Doctor Do Little syndrome and a wish by some people to have the ability to communicate with animals while others find the idea absurd.
     
  19. monty

    monty Colossal Squid Staff Member Supporter

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    I don't know if this counts, but some animals don't have special carrier molecules, and use seawater, and I think some use other fluids (including sap, in plants, perhaps) or just diffusion of oxygen through tissues.

    I'm pretty sure starfish and other echinoderms just use seawater to get oxygen around. Sponges even more so... I think starfish do some active pumping, while sponges use little cillia (moving hairs) to move fresh, oxygenated water around.

    I don't know if there are any animals with closed circulatory systems that use dissolved oxygen but don't have a carrier molecule that's hemoglobin or hemocyanin, but I think some don't have special cells like our red blood cells, and even if there aren't any now, it seems likely that animals developed a closed circulatory system first (probably in the Cambrian or earlier) in order to become larger and bring oxygen to the parts far from the outside, and then carriers were an improvement on that model. Worms frequently survive as the last of such animals, so I wouldn't be shocked to find some surviving worm that still works that way.

    I looked up velvet worms, since they're often interestingly weird, and found that

    (from http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/animals1/phylum/velvetworm.html )

    This is, in fact, nice and weird, particularly since their ancestor Hallucigenia was aquatic so presumably didn't have the drowning problem. Exactly what the blood is used for if it isn't respiration isn't clear, perhaps just for getting nutrients to the cells and waste (maybe including CO2) away from them? But it doesn't answer your question :rolleyes:
     
  20. octokidwriter

    octokidwriter Blue Ring Registered

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    this is all amazingly mindbogglingly interesting though it might take me some time to digest all...so i'll just quietly chew on this all day (all night for most of you on the forum :)

    thanks!

    anna
     

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