Toronto: To resist male harassment and unwanted mating attempts, female octopuses have been seen throwing debris, finds an interesting study led by a team from Australia, Canada, and the United States.
The study, which was published on the pre-print server bioRxiv and has yet to be peer-reviewed, captured female squids with their tentacles to collect debris, including mussels, silt and algae, and jet them towards other squids sling. reported the CTV News.
“Some throws appear to be directed at other people and play a social role, as several types of evidence suggest,” said the researchers, including Peter Godfrey-Smith of the University of Sydney’s School of History and Philosophy of Science.
“Some throws were directed differently from below the arms and such throws were much more likely to hit other octopuses,” they added.
This peculiar behavior in octopuses has been observed by the team off the east coast of Australia since 2015. While octopuses often perform similar throws when building and maintaining burrows, the throwing is seldom seen by animals in the wild, much less in a social context.
The study categorized 101 litters, 36 of which were considered performed in a social context, while more than half were at least partially social.
Social throws were defined as those that occurred within two minutes of interacting with another octopus. Interactions included fights, attempts to mate, and approaches or range, followed by an obvious reaction, the report said.
In addition, the study showed that of the 24 octopuses observed throwing debris, 11 were doing so in a social context. Among the octopuses hit by a throw, none fired back, nor did a hit start a fight.
In December 2016, a female threw debris ten times at a nearby male that had repeatedly attempted to mate with her and hit him five times. These actions, combined with the man’s apparent efforts to avoid the thrown objects, could indicate intent, the report said.