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Octopus cross-species slash!

February 23, 2012

I’m actually thirty now, instead of just rounding my age to the nearest five years. My husband got me a book about octopuses for my birthday. I like octopuses. They’re really cool and alien. I’ve read the entire book already.

Turns out, we can add octopuses to the list of animals that occasionally have male-on-male sex:

Some observations of octopus couplings have occured that are puzzling. One bizarre encounter in the depths of the ocean was filmed by the submersible Alvin and reported by R. A. Lutz and Janet Voigt in 1994. This meeting in the depths would have been interesting just as a film on behavior, since seeing an octopus mating is valuable. But in this observation, the two octopuses were male members of different, undescribed species. The smaller male on top assumed a typical mounted position, parallel to the one underneath. He inserted his heterocotylised* arm into the mantle cavity of the lower male and his respiration rate increased.

So they’re having homosex, the little molluscs. Is there nothing we vertebrates can do, that they won’t imitate? And at least the top one seems to have enjoyed it. Probably the bottom one did too; the authors point out that “[h]e was quite capable of turning on the other octopus, and killing and eating him”. (Octopuses have no inhibitions against cannibalism, and these two were even different species of octopus.)

Quoted from Octopus – The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate by Mather, Anderson and Wood.

* An octopus’s penis is called heterococtus. It is located at the tip of the third right arm.

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