Sleeping octopus's changing camouflage narrates her dream (video)

dreaming octopus
© PBS Nature

Watch a remarkable clip of Heidi the octopus as she sleeps and dreams – from the new PBS series, Octopus: Making Contact.

As much as I love my cats, there is no animal that amazes me more than an octopus. They are profoundly intelligent – easily one of the smartest animals in town – and so wonderfully "other." (Rather than list all of their impressive accomplishments here, I will just direct you to the related stories below. See? I am a bit obsessed.)

The latest cephalopod super-trick performed for us lowly humans comes courtesy of Heidi, a day octopus starring in PBS's new season of Nature – Octopus: Making Contact. The series will follow the pulchritudinous Heidi and her evolving relationship with a marine biologist and his teenage daughter. Here's the blurb:

"Dr. David Scheel, a professor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, raises a day octopus in a tank in his home with assistance from his teenage daughter Laurel. Given the name Heidi, the octopus bonds with the Scheels, showing recognition of their faces, excitement when the humans come near and an inclination for playing with Laurel. Scheel links his discoveries — which also include Heidi’s demonstrated abilities to change color, solve puzzles, use tools and escape through small spaces — to octopus findings from all over the world, further proving the extraordinary intelligence of these incredible creatures."

floating octopus© Heidi in an aquarium in the living room of Dr. David Scheel. (Photo: Ernie Kovacs / Passion Planet)

I can already tell: Best. Show. Ever.

PBS has been teasing out some clips, and this one of Heidi dreaming is as endearing as it is beautiful. Now we don't know that she is actually dreaming, but to anyone who has watched a dog or cat having a dream, all the tell-tale signs are there. Not to mention the fact that her skin changes colors and texture as the dream progresses. I mean, come on. Can a cat do that?

Scheel describes a narrative implied by her changing camouflage, which you can see in the video below.


“Octopuses followed a different evolutionary path, making them different from all other intelligent animals on this planet,” says Scheel. “I am less intrigued by the differences and more interested in our similarities. What kind of a connection is possible with an animal that has three hearts and blue blood running through its veins? It’s been a privilege to have a relationship with such a strange and wonderful creature.”

The show premieres Wednesday, October 2 at 8 p.m. on PBS, check your local listings. I'll be watching, wearing my Heidi 2020 shirt and fangirling hard.

Sleeping octopus's changing camouflage narrates her dream (video)
Watch a remarkable clip of Heidi the octopus as she sleeps and dreams – from the new PBS series, Octopus: Making Contact.

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