Katherine Harmon Courage is a Scientific American contributor, independent journalist and author. Horrible videos show large fish still moving as people eat their severed flesh; An octopus, eels and grubs are also seen being eaten alive or shoved into bowls ... say feel pain … It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. No more than kittens do. Holiday Sale: Save 25%. ... researchers have observed an octopus’s color changing and activity patterns and looked for any self-inflicted harm (swimming into the side of a tank or eating … Her books include Cultured: How Ancient Foods Can Feed Our Microbiome and Octopus! QuestionableMouse Sat 23-May-20 14:36:59. The only command issued by the octopus's brain is "FOOD NOW" -- the tentacle already knows what it needs to do in order to fulfill that goal without any further input from mission control. The fact is that many octopi have their tentacles cut off while they're still alive, that is torture, and I am not okay with torture. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, How Does That Crazy Camouflage Octopus Disappear? They're fascinating. If they do have these key receptors, do they have the mental complexity to compute a deeper sense of displeasure? The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. Bodies. If they stuck a shrimp on a block of ice until it's unreactive, it's probably less aware than it would be if you picked it out of the water and started chewing it from the tail up. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. If they feel pain, she says, what about fruit flies? [Video], how octopus arms can grow back after inflicted damage, how even severed octopus arms can react to stimuli, the special “Cephalopod Research” issue of September’s, Farewell from Octopus Chronicles—And an Ode To a Tool-Wielding Octopus [Video], Octopus Genome Remains Elusive—But Full of Promise. Without getting too far into the woods (or reefs) of animal treatment ethics, the question remains: How much pain and distress can these relatively short-lived invertebrates experience? She added, “Octopus expert Dr. Jennifer Mather has stated that ‘There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain,’ and explained that an octopus who is being eaten alive is in just as much pain as a pig, fish, or rabbit would be.” JUNG YEON-JE via Getty Images. And finally, there is the crucial step our bodies take in communicating the information from sensation to perception. That would be the quickest, easiest way to render an animal that might be conscious not conscious. Sex & Pleasure. But, do octopuses experience would-be painful experiences the same way mice do? Sannakji (Korea) Not an uncommon or unreasonable reaction when your food puts up a fight. But we do not yet have evidence that they can process suffering as we do. In the written material that PETA has issued to accompany the video, octopus expert Jennifer Mather makes it clear, as well, that octopuses feel pain. But the octopus, which you've been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. Animals probably don’t feel pain initially. Their arms contain their own, individual small “brains,” and arms seem to communicate with each other via a lower nerve connection that does not pester the brain with mundane movement and coordination tasks. What do you think an octopus is experiencing when it's being cut into pieces and eaten alive? Live octopus is served at about a … Of course they do, just as much as you would if you were eaten alive! Certainly some awareness of harmful stimuli is important for an animal to survive and thrive. What's going on physically when their arms continue to move after they've been cut off? (This is a fascinating question for many animals–especially those we occasionally eat; David Foster Wallace’s famous essay “Consider the Lobster” explores the issue for crustaceans.). So it’s a barbaric thing to do to the animal.”—Cephalopod expert Dr. Jennifer Mather “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. As the authors point out, experiments showing that cephalopods can learn via electric shocks as a negative stimulus are suggestive that the octopus has felt–and remembered the sensation. Much more research is needed. How An Octopus Feels When It's Eaten Alive. If you've got pieces of arm, because there's so much local control, they might react to the painful stimuli that they get, but they're probably not exactly "feeling pain," because they're disconnected from the brain. First, there is the detection of physical pain (via receptors known as nociceptors). Eating octopus when it's still alive can be a choking hazard — people have actually died this way before. Octopuses can feel pain, just like all animals. The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses, including: showing how octopus arms … Cultural live animal traditions. Add message | Report. Discover world-changing science. Explore Topics. I eat meat but only a small amount and I get it from a butcher so its high welfare. The evidence for sentience in squids, octopuses, and crustaceans is increasingly clear. Natural selection does not select against pain. (For the record, animals in the studies were anesthetized and euthanized, respectively.) Not only can they remember where home is, but they can go out and hunt, come back, and then go out the next day and hunt in a different place. Octopussies tend to be a lot less vocal about it though. Are there any ways, short of medical sedation, that one could reduce the amount of suffering while still eating an animal alive? Rather than trying to reckon with apples and oranges (or spaniels and squids), I consulted cephalopod expert Jennifer Mather, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta and author of numerous studies on octopus and cephalopod sentience, including "Cephalopod consciousness: Behavioral evidence" and "Ethics and invertebrates: a cephalopod perspective." 6 hours ago — Thomas Frank and E&E News, 12 hours ago — Lee Billings and Casey Dreier, 13 hours ago — Ronjini Joshua | Opinion, December 1, 2020 — Daniel Cusick and E&E News, December 1, 2020 — Ewen Callaway and Nature magazine. Fruit flies are known to have nociceptors, and it is likely that other insects do, too. Culture. We don’t need to consume oysters, scallops, and clams to survive. By Katherine Harmon Courage on September 18, 2013. "I understand your emotional response but it's unconfirmed by fact."
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