Agriculture
Earth-Friendly Fabrics
Silk’s superpowers
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Amphibians
Salamanders and Newts
Toads
Salamanders
Animals
Odor-Chasing Penguins
Life on the Down Low
Cacophony Acoustics
Behavior
Girls are cool for school
The Disappearing Newspaper
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
Birds
Blue Jays
Birds We Eat
Cardinals
Chemistry and Materials
A New Basketball Gets Slick
Bandages that could bite back
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Computers
A Light Delay
Hubble trouble doubled
Play for Science
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Mini T. rex
From Mammoth to Modern Elephant
An Ancient Spider's Web
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Petrified Lightning
Salty, Old and, Perhaps, a Sign of Early Life
Environment
A Change in Time
Shrimpy Invaders
Plant Gas
Finding the Past
Early Maya Writing
A Long Haul
Ancient Art on the Rocks
Fish
Manta Rays
Puffer Fish
Carp
Food and Nutrition
Turning to Sweets, Fats to Calm the Brain
Recipe for Health
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Who vs. That vs. Which
Whoever vs. Whomever
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
Play for Science
Losing with Heads or Tails
Detecting True Art
Human Body
Heavy Sleep
Flu Patrol
Sun Screen
Invertebrates
Crustaceans
Beetles
Fleas
Mammals
Mouse
Yaks
Rhinoceros
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Gaining a Swift Lift
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Black Hole Journey
Plants
Fastest Plant on Earth
Farms sprout in cities
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Reptiles
Caimans
Chameleons
Gila Monsters
Space and Astronomy
Wrong-way planets do gymnastics
Sounds of Titan
An Icy Blob of Fluff
Technology and Engineering
Smart Windows
Beyond Bar Codes
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Robots on the Road, Again
How to Fly Like a Bat
Ready, unplug, drive
Weather
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Recipe for a Hurricane
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
Add your Article

Walktopus

Crissy Huffard spends so much time studying octopuses that they've been known to take over her life. "There were times when I'd close my eyes and see octopuses because I'd been watching them so many hours a day," Huffard says. She's a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. "I'd have dreams that I'd find land octopuses," she says. Then she wouldn't have to be in the water all the time, using scuba and snorkeling gear to study them.Huffard hasn't come across any land octopuses yet, but she has made another important discovery. In Indonesia and Australia, she has found two species of octopus that actually walk on two arms. It's the first time anything like walking has ever been seen in an animal with no bones. Understanding how octopuses do it might eventually help engineers design "soft" robots that can move in a similar way. The discovery, Huffard says, also emphasizes just how much there is left to learn about these squishy, eight-armed creatures. "We're just now piecing together a lot of aspects of [octopus] behavior," Huffard says. Although people have been observing octopuses for hundreds of years, "only recently have we had the technology to take video cameras underwater to spend long periods of time with them." Jet propulsion Octopuses normally move around in one of two ways. Sometimes, they funnel water through their bodies, then squirt the water out to propel themselves. They can also crawl on the seafloor by pushing and pulling with suckers on their arms. They have flexible muscles filled with fluid to help them move around. Huffard first noticed a walking octopus one day in 2000, while scuba diving in Indonesia. She had spent an entire day following a type of octopus called Octopus marginatus. About the size of a small apple, it's also known as the coconut octopus. She was observing its behavior and trying to learn more about its day-to-day life. Oceanographers, meanwhile, filmed the animal. "At one point, we got close to it with the camera," Huffard says, "and it just lifted its arms up and started walking. And I thought, 'That's really strange.'" A few years later, she observed the same behavior in another species, Octopus aculeatus, while snorkeling off Lizard Island in Australia. Also known as the algae octopus, its body is about the size of a walnut. Huffard then collected more video footage. Conveyor belts When she looked at the tapes, Huffard was able to see exactly what was happening. "Immediately, we knew this was different from all other types of octopus locomotion," she says. Typically, such an octopus moves by drawing six arms around its body and using its backmost pair of arms for propulsion. The two arms take turns bending forward and rolling on the bottom of the ocean, like little conveyor belts, to push the octopus backwards. Interestingly, researchers in Italy had previously found that they could produce a similar motion in octopus arms that had been cut off. All they had to do was to stimulate an arm with an electrical pulse or bump it. The motion was exactly the same every time. Based on that work, Huffard and her colleagues suggest that octopuses don't need to use their brains to walk. Such walking might be just an automatic, or instinctive, behavior. Masters of disguise Octopuses are famous as masters of disguise. They can change color rapidly to blend in with their environments. They have muscles under their skin that can make them look spiny or smooth, depending on whether they want to resemble rocks or sand. They can also change their body shapes and squeeze in and out of small holes and other hard-to-reach places. Walking on two arms appears to be another form of camouflage, Huffard proposes. It's perfect for when the animals want to move but don't want to be seen. O. aculeatus look like blobs of tiptoeing algae when they move quickly. O. marginatus, which live near areas where coconut trees are common, look like fallen coconuts rolling with the current. Walking has long been thought to require the combination of muscle pushing against bone. Walking octopuses prove that bones aren't necessary. Like walking octopuses, robots of the future may be able to squeeze themselves in and out of small spaces while remaining strong enough to support themselves. Soft robots could be useful in rescue missions and other situations. A wet life Huffard, meanwhile, continues to dream about what else her career as an octopus researcher might have in store. She has even grown used to the lifestyle required by the work. As an octopus researcher, "you spend a lot of time in the water," she says. "Life proceeds with pruny fingers." Huffard adds, "You spend a lot of time away from home and away from pizza and movies and the normal creature comforts that we think of." All that sacrifice, though, is worth it, she says, because there's still so much left to learn about octopuses and the world they live in. "It's great because you see something new and different every day," Huffard says. "And that really motivates me to spend more time in the water trying to understand our marine environment."

Walktopus
walktopus








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™