Biologists consider octopuses reclusive loners who interact with each other only for the purpose of mating. But recently, researchers found an entire octopus city, which they named “Octlantis,” off the eastern coast of Australia.
During the study, published in the journal Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, the researchers, watching videotapes from underwater cameras, observed complex social interactions among the Octlantis residents.
The octopuses excavate their own dens and communicate through posturing, chasing, and changing color. They will even reach a tentacle into a neighbor’s den to evict the unfortunate resident. They also exhibit threatening behavior that sometimes leads to grappling and frightens other octopuses away.
After octopuses enjoy a tasty dinner of clams or scallops in their dens, they discard the hard shells in a big heap that eventually forms a shell bed. Some octopuses add beer bottles and lead fishing lures they find in their habitat as well. The shell beds provide resources for other organisms and material for more octopuses to build dens, “making these octopuses true environmental engineers,” Stephanie Chancellor, one of the authors of the paper, said in a statement.
Scientists found a similar community nearby in 2009, but they did not consider that city naturally occurring because the octopuses built it around a human artifact. —J.B.
New research, published in Nature Geoscience, found that a group of about 12 computer models upon which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change relies wrongly predicted a more rapid and exaggerated temperature increase over the past decade than actually occurred, The Times of London reported.
Although the researchers quickly claimed that global warming remains a threat, the study showed that the science isn’t all that settled.
“It goes to show this carbon-budget approach is still much more, let’s say, immature scientifically than what we often assume,” Glen Peters, a climate and emissions expert at the Center for International Climate research, told The Washington Post. The carbon budget is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that climate change scientists deem tolerable. —J.B.
Researchers have developed a method in which “smart ceramics” embedded in roads can convert vehicle vibrations into electricity. A normal volume of traffic could generate enough electricity to power between 2,000 to 4,000 street lamps, as well as traffic lights and electric car–charging points. The researchers said the cost of installing and operating a smart road would amount to about 20 percent of the cost-savings. —J.B.