Octopuses fling shells and sand at each other, and scientists caught their battles on video

It’s no wonder that, with so many arms, octopuses turn out to be great pitchers. They can even target other octopuses with bits of seafloor debris — and score a direct hit.

For the first time, researchers have observed the famously brainy cephalopods deliberately hurling clumps of sand, bits of algae and even shells at each other, though they don’t actually toss with their arms as people do. Rather, they use their arms to gather projectiles and then propel them using jets of water expelled from a siphon under their arms. Scientists captured video footage of this unusual behavior in gloomy octopuses (Octopus tetricus) in Jervis Bay on the southern coast of New South Wales in Australia and described their findings Nov. 9 in the journal PLOS One (opens in new tab).  

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