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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Blocks boost octopus brain power
Ozzie the octopus and his building blocks
The building blocks are usually played with by young children
Staff at a Sea Life centre in Lancashire have found a novel way to keep their latest resident stimulated.

Ozzie the lesser octopus needs plenty of entertainment to keep him happy and healthy, so a set of large building blocks have been put in his tank.

The building bricks are usually played with by children aged between two and five years old.

Octopuses are very intelligent and Ozzie has great problem-solving skills, a Blackpool centre spokeswoman said.

"They can learn to unscrew jam-jars to get at food in no time at all, and have been known to solve more elaborate puzzles and even negotiate elaborate mazes," said displays supervisor Carey Duckhouse.

Eight octopod facts
An octopus is a mollusc, related to snails, mussels and clams
It has no bones or shell and can squeeze through a gap no bigger than its eye
The word 'octopus' means 'eight arms'. The arms are covered with several hundred suckers
If an octopus loses an arm it can grow another one to replace it
There are 289 different octopus species
They have three hearts
Octopus is a common ingredient in Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine
It has a parrot-like beak to break open shells

"Working out how to separate his colourful Duplo bricks will certainly keep Ozzie busy while we devise other ways to keep him occupied."

The orange-coloured lesser octopus is common in the seas around the UK.

Octopuses also have three hearts, blue blood and the ability to change colour and even grow spikes all over their skin, in the blink of an eye.

Sadly, octopuses have a short life span, and some species live for as little as six months.

Reproduction is a cause of death, as males can only live for a few months after mating, and females die shortly after their eggs hatch.

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25 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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21 May 04 |  Cornwall
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28 Mar 02 |  Science/Nature


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