Mirror experiment of self – recognition and tool – use of Octopus vulgaris

Presenting Author: Wolfgang Slany

Author: Wolfgang Slany

Graz University of Technology, Austria

Training 1: A transparent bin contains otherwise identical blue and yellow balls. They are linked through a fishing line which is threaded through an eyelet so that the octopus can only take one ball up to the hole. The octopus receives a reward when she first takes the blue ball to the hole. Control 1: Bin’s open side is attached to a large opaque plate. The octopus cannot look around the plate to visually direct its arm. A mirror is placed outside of the aquarium glass so that the octopus can see her arm in the mirror image, but the octopus has never encountered a mirror. The choice of the ball remains random over many repetitions.

Training 2: The mirror is placed as an enrichment in the middle of the tank. A training regimen is used to make the octopus understand what the mirror image shows, among many others by parading various objects around the mirror and letting the octopus see the backside of the mirror. The mirror is kept in the tank for several days and can be freely moved by the octopus.

Test 1: Like Control 1, but the mirror is placed in such a way in the tank that the octopus can see its arm in the bin in the mirror. Control 2: Control 1 without mirror. The sides of the tank are made non – reflective during this phase.

Test 2: Like Test 1, but the mirror is initially placed so that the octopus cannot see its arm.

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1 comment
  • Nadav Shashar 20/09/2020 04:05

    A very smart experiment. From field observations it seems that octopus (unlike fish) do not care much about mirrors. So you do not have to worry about self recognition. Just the ability of seeing around a corner is brilliant!

  • Nadav Shashar 20/09/2020 06:23

    With sound and possible to copy link https://youtu.be/uyWMxep-FhQ