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Stories by Katherine Harmon Courage

Meet Your Dr. Octopus: Surgical Octo Arms

Robotic surgery has proved itself to be less than perfect so far. Stiff robotic limbs, burning surfaces, numerous complications. But what if that surgeon’s assistant was less like a standard robot—and more like an octopus?

June 30, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Tiny Hairs Help Octopus Suckers Stick

Just when you thought octopuses couldn’t get any weirder: It turns out that their suckers have an unexpectedly hairy grip. Octopuses can form an impressively tight grip—even on a rough surface.

May 19, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Why Don’t Octopuses Get Stuck To Themselves?

An octopus might be one of the most intelligent invertebrates, but it doesn’t always know what, exactly, its arms are doing. How these animals manage to avoid tangling themselves up is a major feat.

May 15, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Health: Are Octopuses Rocking Too Much Heavy Metal?

Octopuses are a popular entrée for plenty of predators—including us humans. And for good reason. Octopuses are nutritious, with loads of lean muscle in those amazing arms, and plenty of good minerals.

May 8, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Mating Octopuses Prefer Crab Legs

Male octopuses don’t usually wine and dine prospective mates. But prior to mating, both males and females do seem to be in the mood for one date-worthy food: crab, according to new research published online in the Journal of Shellfish Research.

May 1, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Scientists Learn How to Put an Octopus to Sleep

We can’t really ask an octopus to count backward from 10. Which is just one of the tricky things about putting an octopus under. If knocking an octopus out (for science) sounds like an unusual procedure, well, it is.

April 29, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Does the Octopus Really “Fart” Ink? [Video]

It’s true that the octopus is super weird. These animals have blue blood and three hearts. And as online personality and humorist Ze Frank points out in his latest video creation, it seems that they can also “fart ink at a moment’s notice”--pointing to this as “evolution at its finest.” The video’s tongue-in-cheek tone might [...]

April 22, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

How Lil Wayne, the NYC Octopus, Will Help Scientists Understand the Brain

BROOKLYN--It wasn’t hard to name Lil Wayne. He actually volunteered to take the rapper’s moniker. On April 2, Frank Grasso, director of the Biomemetic and Cognitive Robotics Lab at Brooklyn College, showed me around his lab spaces--from where they build mobile robots to where they keep their axolotls and fiddler crabs to the crown jewel: [...]

April 3, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

Scientists Move to Patent Octopus Robot

Scientists have spent years crafting a very special, creepy robot. One that can crawl over obstacles, swim through surf and grasp just about any object.

March 31, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage

How To Grow a Patagonian Red Octopus

Octopuses are tricky animals to keep in captivity. They’re smart, strong and slinky. But surely their eggs much be easier--being naturally contained and all.

March 30, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage
Amazing Mimic Octopus Caught in Thailand [Video]

Amazing Mimic Octopus Caught in Thailand [Video]

The mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) eluded formal description until 2005. Perhaps it was this banded cephalopod’s incredible impersonation abilities that kept it from science for so long.

March 7, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage
Giant Octopus Checks Out Camera and Diver [Video]

Giant Octopus Checks Out Camera and Diver [Video]

Theoctopus making headlines this week was probably notcontrary to other claimsattempting to wrestle a diver or take a selfie. But then again, nice, curious invertebrates rarely make headlines.

February 21, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage
16 Arms + 6 Hearts = Love? Watch an Octopus Blind Date Live

16 Arms + 6 Hearts = Love? Watch an Octopus Blind Date Live

  This Valentine’s Day, two octopuses are getting set up on a blind date. And you can watch what happens. Ace, a male giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) between 40 and 50 pounds and two-and-a-half to three-years old, and YoYo, a female of a similar size and age, will be introduced for the first time [...]

February 14, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage
Odd Male Octopus Flaunts 2 Unexpected Arm Phalluses

Odd Male Octopus Flaunts 2 Unexpected Arm Phalluses

Is that a case of bilateral hectocotylization, or are you just extra happy to see me? Or so might a female octopus say if she met the young subject of a new report about a certain biological oddityor oddities.

January 31, 2014 — Katherine Harmon Courage
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Scientific American Health & Medicine

Scientific American Health & Medicine