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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Einstein flips his lid
curled octopus
The curled octopus is native to Britain
A brainy octopus rescued from a Tyneside beach has stunned aquarium staff by learning to unscrew jars to get at food.

Workers at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Tynemouth have nicknamed the ingenious cephalopod Einstein.

Staff say the creature has shown signs of increased intelligence since he was rescued from a rock pool where he was stranded.

The half-metre long curled octopus is now the star attraction of the popular tourist spot.


Octopuses are reputed to have the intelligence of a dog

Aquarium worker Matt Owen

Aquarium worker Matt Owen said Einstein tried to wrestle a thermometer out of his hands while he checked the display's water temperature.

He said: "Einstein seemed to think it was some sort of tug-of-war contest and simply wouldn't let go.

"He wasn't being aggressive, it was almost as if he wanted to play, so I decided to try a little experiment."

Opened jar

Mr Owen had heard about an American octopus learning to unscrew a jar so he tried it out himself.

After a few attempts Einstein had successfully got his tentacles around the lid and opened the jar to get at the food inside.

Mr Owen said: "Octopuses are reputed to have the intelligence of a dog.

"We think Einstein's cleverer than that so we're introducing other tests and puzzles into his display to see how smart he really is.

"We've already put in a little football in to celebrate England's qualification in the World Cup and he's playing with that."

Complex tasks

The octopus has a highly developed nervous system. Its eyes are like humans and it has the largest and most advanced brain of any invertebrate.

Despite the fact that they belong to the same family as slugs and snails, octopus can perform incredibly complex tasks.

The curled octopus get its name from their slender, tapering arms which curl at the end.

Although they are usually reddish-brown in colour they can change shades quickly and discharge ink when threatened.

They spend much of their time lying in holes and crevices or among rocks.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

28 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
06 Sep 01 | Science/Nature
03 Apr 01 | Science/Nature
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