A new discovery by scientists has completely turned our understanding of an octopus' social life on its head.
Scientists were stunned after learning more about the social life of an octopus — as it turns out, they’re not the loner creatures they had been thought to be.
In fact, the color-changing ability of an octopus isn’t just for camouflage — it’s also to communicate with each other, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
New researched published in the journal Current Biology involved studying the interactions of Octopus tetricus in Jervis Bay, Australia. A total of 186 cases of octopus interaction were documented, along with more than 500 actions.
“We found that octopuses are using body patterns and postures to signal to each other during disputes,” said David Scheel of Alaska Pacific University in a statement. “The postures and patterns can be quite flashy, such as standing very tall, raising the body mantle high above the eyes, and turning very dark.”
Octopuses have long been thought of as solitary creatures, but this new study could change all that. Researchers noted that the color of these creatures would change in a confrontation, and it was predictive of whether or not they would fight. The confronting animal would turn dark and the other would turn pale, typically meaning the pale octopus would flee — whereas if the confronted was dark, a fight might be about to start.
“Dark color appears to be associated with aggression, while paler colors accompany retreat,” Scheel added.
It shows that octopuses use their color changes to communicate their intentions to other octopuses. The researchers determined that the octopus may signal that it doesn’t want to fight in order to avoid one altogether, which would be quite helpful to its survival.