Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Teleology And Coconuts

Two scientists at the Melbourne Museum have recorded the first case of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selects, stacks, transports and assembles coconut shells as portable armour.

Many octopuses use available objects such as shells and rocks for shelter, but that is not considered tool use.

Dr Mark Norman says what makes these animals so special is the the planned future use of the coconut shells.

"It comes at a cost, carrying these shells in this awkward way and it's a fantastic example of complex behaviours in what we consider the lower life forms," he said.

"I think these sorts of behaviours are everywhere in nature. There's really complex behaviours that we write off because we think we're the clever ones."

He and colleague Dr Julian Finn spent more than 500 hours diving in remote waters off Indonesia to observe and film the animals.

They watched the octopuses dig out coconut shells from the ocean floor and empty the shells of mud using jets of water.

Dr Finn says it is not unusual for octopuses to live inside coconuts but it is how the veined octopus uses the shells that is unique.

"It gathers them together, it stacks them like bowls, covers its whole body over bowls, lifts them up and then trundles along on its arm tips until a predator comes or there's a threat," he said.
Like bricks being designed for smashing windows (or is it the other way around?), it seems that the octopus has finally caught on to the grand design of the coconut. Sticks are designed for poking out eyes and hills are designed for rolling down, now it seems that the octopus has finally cracked the teleological purpose that has eluded humanity until now. Coconut shells are for armour.

Like a wasp protecting its store of caterpillars with a pebble, it can't just be an accident that the coconut shell can be used to protect an octopus. And selection simply cannot account for it, for where are the shells of Brazil nuts and peanuts that show the intermediate stages? No such a perfect fit can only be befitting of a grand designer who made coconuts for the purpose of armour for his likeness. Therefore God exists and that God is Cthulhu!

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