Is It True That An Octopus Can Change Its Sex At Will?

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Oscar De La Huerte Profile
You may be surprised to learn that octopuses do in fact have 'gender-bending' abilities.

According to a study commissioned by National Geographic magazine, male octopuses are able to mimic the opposite sex by changing colour.

Gender-changing octopus Before I say any more on the topic of octopuses and their sex changing abilities, I'd like to put it out there just how disappointed I am to find that the plural of octopuses isn't octopi.

Now that I've got that out of my system, we can go on to examine the sexual behaviour of the mighty octopus.

Until recently, very little was actually known about the mating rituals and sexual behaviour of the octopus. This is because octopuses in captivity are very reluctant to mate.

To get any significant amount of information about octopuses 'shacking up', scientists were forced to become sneaky voyeurs of the sea.

What they found in the dark depths of the ocean turned out to be a rather shocking insight into the sex lives of octopuses.

Octopus sex: Cross-dressing and jealous murder Scientific studies found that Octopuses were able to 'disguise' their gender by changing their colour. You may ask yourself why any self-respecting octopus would want to do such a thing? The answer is that most of these 'cross-dressing' octopuses start off as males, and use cross-dressing as a way to get closer to the ladies.

Still confused? Well, the reasoning behind such unusual behaviour is made necessary by the jealous rage that octopuses suffer from when a competitor is eyeing up their female.

When confronted by a competitor, a male octopus will usually resolve the situation by strangling the interloper to death with his tentacles. This is obviously bad news for smaller, weaker octopuses.
So, to pass 'under the radar', a smaller male octopus will change his colour to appear female. This will allow him to by-pass the larger, jealousy-prone males and try it on with the females.

If you think all that cross-dressing and murder is weird, why not look up the 'argonaut' or 'paper nautilus'- a type of octopus famous for its detachable penis!
Dipa Suresh Profile
Dipa Suresh answered
Yes, this is an amazing but true fact! An octopus can change its sex to adapt to the situation it is in at the moment, and it is able to accomplish this amazing feat every seven days!

Scientists were surprised when they observed two octopi apparently mating, when they had just ascertained the fact that both of them were males. Further research revealed the fact that one of the male octopi had indeed become a female so that the two could mate and reproduce!

Furthermore, it was found that an octopus is capable of changing its colour too at will, and most often, the colour that sweeps over an octopus reflects its emotional state at that particular moment in time!

An octopus has no bones, and this makes it one of the most flexible creatures of the sea. Quite the brainy creature, an octopus often learns by imitating another octopus, and it can learn very quickly too. Scientists observed that an octopus that was put in a jar with a lid was able to get out of its confines after just three tries!

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