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When octopuses dance beak to beak

The larger Pacific striped octopus does mating, motherhood and hunting like nobody else

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2:00pm, September 8, 2015
Octopus

SMOOCH  Two larger Pacific striped octopuses mate beak-side to beak-side, defying what people thought they knew about octopus intimacy.

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The larger Pacific striped octopus hunts shrimp using a strategy worthy of a schoolyard prank. And that’s not the only oddity about the species. It’s only the second octopus known with females that prolong motherhood, instead of dying after weeks of all-out coddling a single brood.

But what everyone wants to talk about, researchers who study the species have found, is beak-to-beak mating.

Before writhing, wrestling videos of the larger Pacific striped octopus (nicknamed LPSO), biologists knew of two forms of eight-armed sex. Some species mate at a distance, says Roy Caldwell of the University of California, Berkeley. The male extends one arm, always the same one, toward the female and up under her mantle. A travel-ready package of sperm emerges onto his skin and settles into a specialized groove on his mating arm. Waves of arm flexing resembling mammal intestinal motions nudge the packet toward one of two openings to

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