Scientists Say: Octopod

These ocean-dwelling animals have soft bodies and eight sucker-lined arms


Octopuses belong to a group of marine animals called octopods that have eight arms lined with suckers. Octopods include octopuses and paper nautiluses, a type of octopus. 

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Octopod (noun, “AHK-tuh-POD”) 

This word describes marine animals with eight sucker-lined arms. “Octo” comes from Latin and Greek words for “eight.” And “pod” comes from Greek for “foot.” Octopods include octopuses and paper nautiluses, also called argonauts. Paper nautiluses are octopuses too. All these creatures belong to a group of animals called mollusks. Mollusks have soft bodies without a backbone. This group of animals also includes snails, slugs, clams and squid. Even though spiders have eight legs, they aren’t octopods. They don’t live in the sea and they aren’t mollusks. 

Some octopods are known for their smarts. They’ve even been caught using tools. For example, an octopus was seen hauling around two halves of a coconut shell. The octopus, spotted in the Asian country of Indonesia, put them together to make a shelter. Some octopods are also known for their uncanny ability to camouflage, or blend into their surroundings. These octopuses have special pigment-containing cells that let them change colors in a flash.

In a sentence 

Deep-sea mining could endanger a ghostlike octopus, a type of octopod. 

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Carolyn Wilke is a former staff writer at Science News Explores. She has a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. Carolyn enjoys writing about chemistry, microbes and the environment. She also loves playing with her cat.