A breathtaking new study published in The Journal of Zoological Research demonstrates that all octopus species are remarkably smart, but, like, they’re still octopuses so the word “smart” is relative here.
“What we have found in octopuses is a surprising ability to distinguish between shapes and patterns,” said co-author of the study Dr. Paige Zimmerman in a lecture sponsored by Scientific American. “Again it’s impressive that an octopus can do this, but also a reminder: it’s an octopus, so it’s impressive that it can do much of anything at all. These creatures are smarter than fish but no one has ever been out here saying ‘fish are geniuses’ you know? Let’s just appreciate this for what it is.”
The study inspired a wave of glowing articles about octopus intelligence that expanded into philosophical territory about the nature of consciousness. “You all need to calm the fuck down,” said an exasperated Zimmerman, responding to a thinkpiece in The Atlantic about how octopus tool use should make us rethink what it means to be human. "It’s a fucking octopus that picked up a rock.”
“I’m not trying to say that octopuses aren’t smart at all, okay?” clarified Zimmerman towards the end of her lecture. “Sure it’s really cool that they can camouflage, but lots of animals can do lots of things. Why don’t we all take a deep breath and try not to think about this study too hard, okay? I’ve devoted my life to the study of octopuses and even I don’t care about these weird little things as much as you all do. I’ve stared deep into the eyes of many an octopus and, believe me, there isn’t much there.”
At press time, biologists confirmed that although rats are smarter than we previously thought, we previously had a pretty low opinion of rats, so our opinion of them could have really only gone upwards.