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Here’s What Happens When You Give An Octopus MDMA

Here’s What Happens When You Give An Octopus MDMA

Scientists gave seven octopuses MDMA (aka molly/ecstasy) and the results were astonishing

According to research, when a human takes ecstasy the results are typically feelings of joy, extraversion, and an increased interest in physical touch. A group of scientists began to wonder what the results would be like in a different species - specifically, octopuses because they are the animal that is the least similar to humans, biologically. 

 Photo courtesy of Anti Guru

Photo courtesy of Anti Guru

A little bit about octopuses

Similar to humans, octopuses are incredibly intelligent and are capable of learning from experience and maintaining both short-term and long-term memories. However, their intelligence is pretty much their only similarity to humans. Octopuses have three hearts (two that move blood past their gills and one that pumps blood through the rest of the body) and blue blood. They have eight arms (hence, the name “octo”pus) and each arm has a mind of its own. An octopus’s arms can essentially function on their own - even if they’ve been cut off from the octopus’s body. 

Octopuses have no bones and their skin can change color and pattern to blend in with its surroundings. In fact, its almost as if octopuses have eyes in their skin cells because their skin can sense and respond to light without involving the eyes or the brain. 

What Happens When You Give An Octopus MDMA

Researchers gave MDMA to seven octopuses inside lab tanks. Their research goal was to test whether the animals became more social after receiving a dose of MDMA, since octopuses typically prefer to be alone. They placed the octopuses in a bath with ecstasy and then moved them to a chamber with three rooms to choose from: a central room, one with a male octopus, and one with a toy. 

 Photo courtesy of  Inverse

Photo courtesy of Inverse

Before the high, the octopuses avoided the room with the male octopus, but afterwards they spent more time with the other octopus and they even touched the octopus in an exploratory manner. 

What this means, scientifically, according to Gül Dölen (assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopikins University) is that despite our many differences with the species, “social behavior is built into the very molecules coded by our DNA.” 

On a more, “ecstasy” level, the octopuses responded relatively similar to humans while on the drug - if they had too much they breathed erratically and they became white in color. When given a “normal” or smaller dose, one octopus responded by swimming around with outstretched arms, while another swam around doing flips. 

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Judit Pugnor, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon said, “This was such an incredible paper, with a completely unexpected and almost unbelievable outcome…to think that an animal whose brain evolved completely independently from our own reacts behaviorally in the same way that we do to a drug is absolutely amazing.”

All in all, we think that giving octopuses ecstasy is probably one of the craziest science experiments we’ve ever heard of. What do you think about this experiment? Let us know in the comments section and be sure to subscribe to The Sitch for more octopus updates and other entertaining reads. 

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