Do you consider yourself a feminist? Or, more specifically, do you support a female’s right to physically protect herself from unwanted sexual advances? If you said yes to either of those, then you’re going to love this: Female octopus throw objects at unwanted male pursuers. Here’s what the scientists know.
Female Octopus Throw Objects At Males Making Unwanted Sexual Advances
As it turns out, female octopuses are the original feminists of the world. For centuries, this animal frightened humans and their activity baffled scientists. Now, of course, we actually know a lot more about these fascinating creatures. They have relatively large brains for their size, can learn to open jars, and are fiercely loyal and protective mothers. According to these scientists, they’re also feminists. At least, that’s how we’d like to see it.
In 2015, scientists from Canada, the United States, and Australia noticed female octopuses exhibiting slightly odd behavior. It appeared as though the octopus were throwing things at each other. At first, they thought that perhaps they were just moving things out of their way to make room for a nest. Intrigued, they decided to study this behavior a little bit further. (1)
The research team went to Jervis Bay in Sydney, Australia, where a large population of the creature exists. Upon studying them and recording how and what they were throwing, they noted a few key observations:
- Female octopus regularly participate in various kinds of object throwing
- They usually throw silt, shells, and other materials out of the way when building a nest
- Sometimes, they had a target: This was always a male trying to mate with them
What the researchers found is that the females actually throw differently when targeting a male versus when simply moving objects out of their way. This is generally thought to be because one is meant for aggression while the other is not.
Throw Like A Girl
When a female is simply trying to toss something out of the way, the researchers noted that these throws had a different style. For these objects, the females usually threw them using their front two tentacles.
When hurling objects at unwanted male transgressors, however, it was quite different. The females first bring the weapon of choice underneath their bodies. They then place the object over top of a siphon that they use to push out a very quick jet of water. Then, when they launched the object at the male, they always threw it using the first and second tentacle, instead of the front two. Weapons of choice are usually silt, shells, and rocks.
Some Males Just Don’t Get It
The males will attempt to duck these hurling objects, but the females are shockingly accurate with their aim. The scientists found that the males were able to successfully dodge the objects about 50% of the time. This, of course, means that the other 50% of the time the dudes are getting whacked.
Despite this, the males are still surprisingly persistent. On one occasion, a female threw silt at an unwanted male pursuer 10 times before he finally got the point. One important thing that the researchers noted, however, is that no matter what, the males never attempted any form of retaliation.
Not The Only Feminists In The Wild
Female octopuses aren’t the only animals who said “we’ve had enough of men!” and started doing things their own way. Here’s a list of female animals who are better feminists than most people:
- Komodo Dragons: These large lizard creatures developed a way to reproduce with any form of male intervention. Really, is the male half of this species even necessary? (2)
- Elephants: Unlike many animal species, the leader of a herd of elephants is always the oldest female. If the herd decides that the female in charge isn’t doing a great job, they politely ask her to leave and another female steps up. No harm, no foul. (3)
- Lions: While yes, the male is still head of the pride, without the females he’d be long gone. They do all the hunting and work together as a pack to raise their young. Talk about women raising each other up! (4)
- Market Squids: Pretty sure this is where the phrase “grow a pair” comes from. When males are giving them unwanted attention, the females flash fake testicles to make the male lose interest. (5)
- Bees: The leader is literally called their queen, and you know what? They all basically worship her. Everything the little worker bees do is to make sure she is healthy and protected. (6)
- “Female octopuses observed throwing stuff at males harassing them.” Phys. Bob Yirka. August 30, 2021.
- “Female Komodo Dragon Has Virgin Births.” Live Science. Jeanna Bryner. December 20, 2006.
- “THE ROLE OF THE MATRIARCH ELEPHANT.” 4Elephants
- “In real life, Simba’s mom would be running the pride.” National Geographic. Erin Biba. July 8, 2019.
- “Female Squid Wear Fake Testes to Avoid Male Advances.” Live Science. Megan Gannon. September 16, 2013.
- “Understanding the Role of the Queen Bee in a Hive.” Dummies. Howland Blackiston.