'Psychic' Octopus Picks Spain as World Cup Champ (Video)

'Pulpo Paul' sits on a box with decorated with a Spanish flag. AFP photo via Hürriyet Daily News

While fans of Spain and the Netherlands wait with bated breath to see which team will come out on top in tomorrow's World Cup championship match, the owners of a German aquarium feel pretty confident they've got the outcome in the bag already, thanks to their "psychic" octopus Paul, who has correctly predicted the results of six World Cup games thus far.

The cephalopod, dubbed the "octopus oracle," has become as common a presence on football-crazed Turkish television as the sound of vuvuzelas and as famous a name in the soccer world as Rooney, Torres, and Schweinsteiger. He's even prompted a Turkish opportunist to try and cash in on phenomenon by selling his "cousin," an apprentice fortune-teller named Polat.


Associated Press video via YouTube

A resident of the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany, Paul "picked" the right victor in all of Germany's matches by choosing a mussel to eat out of one of two boxes in his tank, each decorated with the flag of one of the teams playing that day. His choice this week of Spain for the eventual win was watched around the world. According to mathematicians, Paul had a 1/64 chance of accurately predicting the six correct outcomes thus far.

Though this is all just fun and games, octopuses are actually pretty smart -- probably on the level of dogs. They've been shown to use tools and to sneak up onto land for short periods to evade predators or hunt prey. "Octopuses have personalities. They can recognize and respond to individual humans. And there's even some evidence that they play," Boing Boing writes. Since they don't have protective shells and tend to be solitary creatures, that makes sense: "Stupid octopuses, or even octopuses that aren't quick on the uptake, get eaten."

That won't happen to Paul, his owners promise, despite some disappointed German fans' call to turn him into paella after their team got knocked out of the finals.

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Tags: Animals | Germany | Spain | Sports | video

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