We all recognize that the male octopus offers his 3rd right eight as a penis. (Oh, you didn’t? It’s true. Periodically he even detaches that to offer to the female.) In fact, every one of the arms, if no so specialized, are conveniently identifiableas numbers one, two, three or 4 on the left or best side.

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We all recognize that the male octopus provides his third right eight as a penis. (Oh, friend didn"t? It"s true. Occasionally he even detaches the to offer to the female.)

In fact, every one of the arms, if no so specialized, are quickly identifiable—as number one, two, 3 or 4 on the left or best side. This an easy scheme helps scientists track whether an octopus prefers a left or best side (they execute seem to exhibit a "handedness") and also how commonly it uses different arms for miscellaneous tasks—from crawling come feeling.

But we have no such method to identify each arm"s hundreds of suckers. This is a sticking suggest for scientists, who are not able come dive into more specific research study of the capabilities, sizes and also various provides of these exceptional organs—which deserve to vary in size to a matter of millimeters to number of centimeters across.

A team of researchers is therefore calling because that a global code come ID details octopus suckers. "In clinical communication, a usual terminology is essential," the team composed in a record on the matter, published last month in Marine and also Freshwater Behavior and Physiology.

But that is no so straightforward as appending number one through 2,240 to these appendages. Possibly the reason this task has actually yet to be completed is that the number and also arrangement the suckers skips around among different species of octopuses. Octopuses usually have singly strung suckers close to the peak of your arms, and also most follow these through two rows of suckers inside wall up ~ above the underside of each arm. However some varieties have only one line of suckers top top the bottom of each arm. And also many species have different total numbers relying on their size and habits.

So how, by Neptune, are we come number this protuberances?

The researchers behind this brand-new Octopus Sucker to know Code, suggest a simple countdown, starting with the base of the arm, near the octopus"s mouth. This would allow straightforward ID of suckers also on eight that had actually been damaged or had tips missing. Because that double-sucker species, every sucker deserve to be distinguished by which arm it is immediately adjacent to. For example, one sucker might be ID"d as R2-07-R3, the is, the seventh sucker under along the right 2nd arm and closest come the third right arm.

In a test team of 25 (human) volunteers, through these instructions, 10 sucker codes, and a picture of an octopus, sucker-side up, most were maybe to pick out easily which sucker was being mentioned. And vice-versa, they to be able to come increase with precise sucker codes because that 10 suckers suggested on an image. This results, the researcher noted, suggest that the naming system is sound.

And that could help boost some an easy octopus research. Because that example, this code will be extremely beneficial in "the examine of enlarged suckers as an indicator of male maturity in octopuses," and also the detection of whether details suckers always expand the most, the researchers wrote. Additionally, "it has actually been demonstrated the coordination among different suckers exists, and, indeed, it would certainly be an especially interesting come identify exactly which suckers are connected in the interaction."

Brace yourself for some major sucker scientific research creeping increase on the horizon.

To learn much more about the octopus’s suckers and also the rest of its bizarre body, grab onto a copy of Octopus! The many Mysterious biology In the Sea.

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Illustration courtesy the Ivan Phillipsen

The see expressed room those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of clinical American.



Katherine Harmon Courage is one award-winning freelance journalist, editor, and author based in Colorado.