In honor of Cephalopod Week 2015, Science Friday spoke with marine expert Dr. Chrissy Hubbard, a Senior Researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, who explained why and how certain species of bipedal octopi are able to use their tentacles to run away from predators.
When octopuses jet to escape a predator there’s so much internal pressure that’s built up inside of their mantle cavity or inside their body sac, that it actually stop their hearts briefly. Going into cardiac arrest while running away in a panic probably isn’t ideal. Walking backward allows them to use two of their arms for locomotion and six of their arms for camouflage to otherwise make their shapes unrecognizable. …Just the way we don’t have to stop and think “move left leg, move right leg”, it’s a type of motion called “feet forward” movement that becomes almost automatic once it gets going and I think it was part of their normal locomotion repertoire of how they can move around