Re: testing memetics

Robert G. Grimes (
Wed, 10 Dec 1997 12:26:11 -0500

Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 12:26:11 -0500
From: "Robert G. Grimes" <>
Subject: Re: testing memetics

Mark Mills wrote:

> I recently heard about someone at the Viriginia State Aquarium training octopuses to 'open jars.' The success one has communicating the meme 'open jars' to octopuses is something that can be easily measured, so I thought I'd work with the idea a bit.
> The trainer accomplished this in the following stages:
> 1. Open jars with shrimp or crab were set in the aquarium for the octopuses to find. This stage was complete when octopuses were comfortable locating and eating out of jars.



Interestingly, the octopus is a very intelligent animal and I've heard of previous experiments where they were taught things such as this. Actually, this should be pretty easy as the manner in which octopi are caught is with "jugs" which are dropped to the sea bottom with a cord and a float. The octopus crawls in and later the fisherman pulls up the jug, Voila! octopus for dinner. The Greek fishermen use this method.

Personally, I've caught octopi on a regular "hook and line" fishing in the rocks of the inlet here at the St. Johns River where the jetties lead into the Atlantic Ocean. They were a gorgeous purplish brown and if brought next to the fiberglass hull would "stick to it" immediately and were difficult to move. When tossed back, they disappeared in a whirl of "ink" and disappeared.

They are invariant "snoopers" and will crawl or get into just about anything they can. In addition, they can "squeeze" through tiny holes with the primary limitation on the size of the hole, as I understand it, being their beak structure. I've seen photos of octopi squeezing through relatively tiny openings that one would not believe they could navigate! So, I'm not sure that the experiment was as difficult as first it appears at first glance. Just wanted you to know about my "octopus expertise."



Bob Grimes Jacksonville, Florida

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore....."

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