The Glorious and Mysterious Intellect of the Octopus

This piece, about the deep intellect of the octopus, in Orion Magazine, had me reading out loud to my husband before we were even out of bed. A clip, wherein author Sy Montgomery is visiting a forty-pound, five-foot-long octopus in a lab:

When I stroked her soft head with my fingertips, she changed color beneath my touch, her ruby-flecked skin going white and smooth. This, I learned, is a sign of a relaxed octopus. An agitated giant Pacific octopus turns red, its skin gets pimply, and it erects two papillae over the eyes, which some divers say look like horns. One name for the species is “devil fish.” With sharp, parrot-like beaks, octopuses can bite, and most have neurotoxic, flesh-dissolving venom. The pressure from an octopus’s suckers can tear flesh (one scientist calculated that to break the hold of the suckers of the much smaller common octopus would require a quarter ton of force).

Read the rest here.