Octopus arm choice is strongly influenced by eye use

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This study aims to investigate the octopus’ eye and arm coordination and raises the question if visual guidance determines choice of arm use. Octopuses possess eight seemingly identical arms but have recently been reported to show a preference as to which arm they use to initiate contact with objects. These animals also exhibit lateralized eye use, therefore, a connection between eye and arm preference seems possible. Seven Octopus vulgaris were observed during approach, contact initiation and exploration of plastic objects that were positioned on three different levels in the water column. The subjects most commonly used an arm to initiate contact with an object that was in a direct line between the eye used to look at the object, and the object itself. This indicates that choice of arm use is spatially rather opportunistic when depending on visual guidance. Additionally, first contact with an object was usually established by the central third of the arm and in arm contact sequences neighboring arms were the most likely to follow an arm already touching the object. Although results point towards strong eye/arm coordination, we did not find lateralized behavior in this experiment. Results are discussed from a neuro-anatomical, behavioral and ecological perspective.