Octopus sex: a holiday gift from the Berkeley Science Review

    Is that Mr. or Mrs. Octopus? There's no way to know.

    As I write this, I know many of you are at home with your families, roasting chestnuts and wishing for snow. But not me, dear readers! I’m back from vacation, my brain is booted up again, and I’m contemplating from the oddities of marine biology, specifically the mating habits of the blue-ringed octopus.

    I was browsing the BSR archives today (a hobby I thoroughly recommend to the bored and curious) and I came across this piece about the poor gender-detection skills of Hapalochlaena lunulata: Eight Legs O’ Love. Way back in 2003, Colin McCormick wrote about these mysterious creatures being studied by Prof. Roy Caldwell. It’s short, so I’ll let you read it for yourself, but here’s a quote for you:

    Male-male couplings typically last only 30 seconds, and the initiating octopus removes his hectocotylus (a modified third arm that delivers the spermatophore goods when the mood is right) amicably.

    Now if that doesn’t pique your interest, I don’t know what will. Make sure you bring up this story with your extended family over eggnog. I guarantee an interesting conversation.

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