Chicago Adventure, Part Seven: Octopus Sex

Chicago Adventure, Part Seven: Octopus Sex

The Chicago Field Museum is one of the largest and most respected natural history museums in the world. Join me as we go behind the scenes! Dun dun dun! Would you like a chair? Sure. Is there one?
– Grab that red one. I’ll grab the… Hoo. We know more about Mars anymore than we know about the deep sea and yet we go there looking for life and the deep sea is full of life and we don’t know what’s there. That’s awesome.
– One example… is this little octopus. It lives in hydrothermal vents in the East Pacific rise at depths of, let’s say, 24 to 26 hundred meters.
– Wow. And it apparently eats the stuff that’s produced by chemosynthesis. So they’re white. What is coming out of its head? What is that? Why does it look like a Conehead? You know, your normal octopuses, this part tends to be rounded, but that’s one of really weird things about this thing, its head actually, its brain, lies between the eyes, which are right there; this part, which some people say looks like a nose, is actually its guts. Ew! Well, you know…
– Why, I mean, I mean that’s kinda cool, but… I’ve opened this, I’ve slipped the back part of the mantle and I’ve cut some things, so I can look at the insides. I can count the number of gill lamellae here and here on the other side, and these black spots, these are actually the hearts that pump the blood through the gills. It has more than one heart? It’s got three.
– It’s got three hearts?! What do you do with three hearts when you’re that small, though? Well, when you think about it, like our right heart just pumps the blood into our lungs. They have one heart for each of the gills so a right and a left gill-heart. But then what’s the third heart? a systemic heart, that pumps the blood from the gills everywhere else.
– Ooh, from- Okayy. Everyw- So- Oh, they just like break up the, the roles.
– Yeah. Why is this so pointy, I don’t know, but this is the testes. Octopus males, and females, come to think of it, only have one gonad. Okay. Weird, okay.
– And… Males only have one of what’s historically called a penis, but it’s not actually…
– Historically called a penis? Well, if you think of a penis as being like an intromittent organ… Yeah. But here, octopuses don’t put their penis inside the female. Octopuses transfer sperm by a modified arm tip. What? No way. Just on one arm? Or on all the arms?
– Just one. Okay. You know.
– They just have one special arm. One special arm. Wow. That’s… very… unusual. How do you discover these kind of things? Well if you watch octopuses, sometimes you’ll see this arm, the right third one, is carried differently. And those guys are protecting this arm, ’cause it’s only the one. What happens is, that the terminal organ here, at the- inside the mantle, releases a packet of sperm that’s actually a long thin tube through the funnel and it’s grabbed right at the base of this arm by this extra groove.
– Oh. And this extra groove moves that long skinny tube to the tip of that arm, what’s called the ligula, and that arm, when they’re in use, copulating, is inserted inside the mantle of the female, and nobody knows exactly what happens, we think it’s x-rated
– Well, I mean, I think I can- yeah, deduce… But it’s probably inserted into the oviduct. And what’s really cooler than that is, I think, all of the coleoid, cephalopods, and that’s the cephalopods other than nautilus who are alive have the same type of spermatophore that inside is a hyperosmotic fluid- Wait, I don’t- You gotta slow down. What is that? What are you talking about? It’s full of all sorts of chemicals that actually make it
– Okay. the equivalent of hypersaline And you know about osmosis right?
– Oh, okay. Yeah. That water will move in to make the concentrations even. In this spermatophore, the water moves in as soon as the male releases it. The pressure builds on this long skinny tube with a huge amount of surface area and s- and low volume.
– Okay. And then it opens and discharges into the female. Weird.
– And it’s got just elaborate stuff in there. So it’s kind of like one of those party poppers. Oh girl, you should be doin’ porn. Party poppers? Talkin’ about sperm delivery!
– I mean- I-
– I mean! Well, I’m just trying to relate it to something I understand! Jeez, I’m not- Now these are animals who live in the deep sea. If it turns out you only meet one male in your life who’s able to give you sperm, you pass up that chance. You’re not having any babies.
– You’re out of luck. Yeah. So they go ahead and copulate. They save the sperm, they store it. Weird! Uh, for when they’re ready? For when they’re ready. The females will sit and brood their eggs for as long it takes those eggs to develop and then about the time the eggs develop, the females, who haven’t eaten since they produced the eggs, die.
– Oh. Oh, well, what a bummer. Oh, now we’re gonna look at baby octopus. What it- uh, ah, is it octopities? It’s octopuses. Octopuses. Oh. ‘Cause- There’s been a lot of contention about this where I’m from. It’s because of the way the root is constructed. Okay. You’ll have to forgive me, it’s either Latin or Greek that you don’t make plural by adding an -i. It’s the one that you just add the -es. This is an octopus hatchling. That’s a pretty big hatchling. It’s 55 millimeters. So it’s just born and ready to go. It’s ready to go, and in fact, there’s signs of reproductive maturity. Nuh-uh! These guys are pretty sweet. They’re amazing.
– I didn’t really reali- And I’ve eaten some and I, you know, never even realized. Now, I feel really kind of strange about that. Well, I mean, cows are pretty cool. Is that a wrap? I think so. I just-
– Alright. What can you tell me about this species?

Daniel Ostrander

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100 thoughts on “Chicago Adventure, Part Seven: Octopus Sex

  1. BugPope says:

    Dr Voight is totally what Emily will become in 30-40 years. Totally awesome, in other words.

  2. basement94 says:

    You should really do a porno called "The Brain Scoop"! …on second thoughts, please don't 🙁

  3. Aaron Charnay says:


  4. Aaron Charnay says:


  5. self6942 says:

    She is pretty awesome. I would love to see her guest star in some later episodes.

  6. dampfoxes says:

    That octopus is such a butt- head.

  7. somethingscripted says:

    "Oh, girl you shouldn't be doing porn." THIS.

  8. Derrek Dietrich says:

    "Oh girl you should be doing porn"

  9. Nicole Alexandra says:

    this is the best video ever

  10. Dogskin says:

    She talks like tree trunks.

  11. cellogirl0096 says:

    I paused the video at the beginning to look up the word "rongulous" because I thought I was going to learn a new word. And then I realized…

  12. The Fool says:

    Is it weird that I am both turned on and disgusted by all this?

    Somehow that seems to be the case with almost all of Emily's videos. >_>

  13. Lolp Cake says:

    That woman ruled.

  14. DovahPie says:

    Is that a Vulcanoctopus hydrothermalis?

  15. DovahPie says:

    Time Lord: I have two hearts!
    Octopus: That's cute.

  16. AlyssaTomkat says:


  17. Aline Thome says:

    Regarding the plural of octopus, I'm just going to believe the lexicographer and go with Kory Stamper's explanation: /watch?v=wFyY2mK8pxk that they're all correct.

  18. blekros says:

    True enough. I wouldn't want scripted formality, either. This succeeds at the level of drawing you into that world, making you more curious about the subject *and* the museum. The museum is only 100 miles away for me, and I've never been there. It's on my to-do list this summer now! Brainscoop is a treasure, because hands-on observation of the structure, form and function of the real world at the macro scale is every bit as important as the microscopic, chemical, and genetic scale.

  19. Iamthecarnivore says:

    Put some gloves on lady!

  20. PurplePalisade says:

    I think it was Michael Aranda…

  21. Michael Cappuccilli says:

    I can't get over, "Well, I mean, cows are pretty cool."

  22. Raquel E says:

    Nope, Michael :b But I like your enthusiasm! DFTBA 🙂

  23. dikamios says:

    i just can't pop party poppers the same way i used to do..

  24. Tara S says:

    Why is nobody wearing gloves!

  25. Cedar atlantica says:

    Oh god…

  26. HereKittyKitty0 says:

    I think it might be because the specimen is sterile since it's been soaking in the (what i assume is) formaldehyde.

  27. pennyfarthing says:

    I've been in Poland for a while, excavating a cemetery in a place where the internet was pretty shoddy. So I've been catching up on the Chicago episodes now that I'm home, and I've thoroughly enjoyed watching when while eating dinner 🙂

  28. pennyfarthing says:

    I think octopus has a Greek root rather than Latin; my Latin is crap but I know words with Latin roots have plurals with an "i" ending. A Greek rooted word, like, platypus, has a plural of platypodes. Octopodes might be the winner~

  29. Arianne Morales says:

    Lol I like that lady

  30. wilfred grasse says:

    'Oh, girl, you should be doing porn!' Does she read youtube comments?

  31. Oscar Diaz says:


  32. Toxic Psychotic says:

    I think octopuses and octopodes are both considered to be acceptable.

  33. TheHeakes says:

    Me gusta

  34. graciela sainz says:

    love when the old lady said "girl you should be working in porn movies" LOL just love it

  35. Mourad Mokrane says:

    That lady's comments are just PURE AWESOMENESS!

  36. Bella says:

    Janet is cool. I like her.

  37. Hannah Rose says:

    lol its like when little kids think that you can get pregnant from holding hands. that is the life of the octopus

  38. Nathaniel Ruff says:

    except the male sticks its hand in the females head.

  39. unionjacklyn says:

    I love this lady. I want to be her when I grow up. I want to know all about invertebrates.

  40. jaziybabe says:

    oh Michael… :] <3

  41. Link says:

    During the "COLEOID, CEPHALOPOD" part I thought of ARTHROPOD.

  42. silent winja says:

    Why is she not wearing gloves!

  43. Naelín Cutuli says:

    Probably they aren't in formaline but 70% alcohol, because they are too tiny and fragile, so the liquid isn't dangerous, and the octopus is safe too, because the alcohol cleaned it.

  44. taigapup72 says:

    "Now I"m just making words up"

  45. Classy Freeza says:

    I want this job

  46. Faithofdespair says:

    why are they touching it without gloves ?

  47. Lex McLlellan says:

    No need for them. The octopus is guarded against decomposition and they're stored in 70% alcohol. 🙂

  48. cscasey08 says:


  49. Lizzie Cottrell says:

    The baby looks like an ood head…

  50. Pajama Sam says:

    Wow, that is strange!

  51. José Villarreal says:

    This is the funniest science video I have ever seen. Janet is awesome!

  52. Napoleonicus says:

    gives a new definition to fisting

  53. Sam Amaya says:

    Lmfao. "Girl, you should do porn" I died a little hahaha.

  54. standing here says:


  55. Aiden says:

    It has three hearts, one too many to be a time lord, too bad.

  56. clooimx says:

    So the baby octopus looks like a ood head….

  57. Michelle Singh says:

    This video totally reminded me of my high school science teacher and how excited she managed to get me about zoology!

  58. maxyourboy says:

    this if fantastic. oh my god

  59. Deanna Turley says:

    I CAN'T EVEN STAND HOW FUCKING COOL YOU ARE! You have literally inspired me to keep going to school because I want to know all the things you know!

  60. Jerame Nicholson says:

    Im sorry to be so primative in my statement…..but……..                                             I love this fucking woman.

  61. skatinanwaitin says:

    Octopus does take the Greek root plural. It is octopodes.

  62. TidalShadow says:

    I was lucky enough to intern with Dr. Voight at The Field Museum in 2011. She is just an awesome person. 

  63. Shawn McCormick says:

    -_- I paused the video and looked up the word in the intro before I got to where you said "now I'm just making words up." Suffice to say, the only result was this video. This probably gave that word a few extra searches it would otherwise never have gotten. RIP "rongulously," you have granted us your one and only use ever.

  64. Kristen Curtis says:

    Fascinating and surprisingly hilarious. Thank you so much for this 🙂

  65. catdogawsome says:

    I feel like Michael just used a thesaurus and picked out synonyms for the intro. 

  66. LolwutFlying says:

    I've EATEN all those tentacles before. Oh oh… that includes the reproductive one.

  67. Servals says:

    I want to live in the Chicago Field museum so bad. I'm not even joking- I've been there a couple of times and I feel more at home in some exhibits, (mainly the dinosaur ones with the darker lighting) than I do in my own room. 

    I want to work in a museum soo badly. 

  68. Kevin Hamp says:

    More please! This video is one of the best in terms of interaction, information, and presentation. Thank you for this great experience.

  69. Funkiemunkytootiedo says:

    Well, I mean, cows are pretty cool.

  70. mgott1992 says:

    This has to be one of my favorite episodes in this series of videos; Dr. Voight is raucously entertaining.

  71. Lalle Shwari says:

    Love Janet's personality. She's a firecracker/party popper.

  72. Leon Wong says:

    While Emily is trying to make it interesting and more appropriate to younger people, Janet decided to put more sexual element to it.. LOL

  73. standing here says:

    Gah she's just the best.

  74. John-Alan Pascoe says:

    In Latin both -i and -es could indicate plural, it depends on the root of the word. (Thus I servus –  II servi, but I pes – II pedes).
    Octopus is originally a latinisation of a Greek word, but as it's now an English word you can use the English pluralisation rules, and thus it is octopuses. That is unless you ride on bi to get to musea, rather than ride on buses to get to museums ;).

  75. SciJoy says:

    If you asked a young Michael what he would be doing with his life, I wonder if he would have ever imagined this.

  76. Spelled Right Samurai says:

    I know I can always skip the outro.. But I can't seem to let myself go to the next video without hearing "It still has brains on it.." xD

  77. SaiyanHeretic says:

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

  78. Hecatonicosachoron says:

    'Octopodes' is more in keeping with the correct eymology. But octopuses is probably more commonly used.

  79. Elizabeth Hogan says:

    I'm pretty sure Latin is where "us" becomes "i" when plural.

  80. Michael Block says:

    6:05 that would be the McDonaldus happymealius.

  81. Andrej Mažar says:

    zanimljivo i značajno

  82. Jeromy Hunt says:

    The beginning of last episode I had to ask,"Michael Aranda, how many adjectives are you going to come up with?"

  83. HighKingTurgon says:

    In terms of 'roots', octopus is formed from Greek roots meaning eightfoot. the plural of greek pous is podes. Hence the contention. Some folks overgeneralize the -us as similar to the Latin inflectional ending -us, which in the plural is -i. But you'll also never really be wrong in English if you pluralize with -s/-es. 

  84. Mary Samuelson says:

    It's a Greek derivative therefore Octopuses. 🙂

  85. Chelsea F says:

    Why did my friend make me watch this??

  86. Fal Leithani says:

    No worries, Micheal. Rongulously is a perfectly cromulent word.

  87. DanYoism says:

    Mrs. Hsu must have donated a very big sum

  88. Jollibuwaya says:


  89. Nihil says:

    we need more of this woman!

    she didn't die, did she?

  90. Caitlin W says:

    I always feel like he's saying Heather's shoe

  91. Oddish Odd says:


  92. Chrissy Mitchell says:

    Can this lady please be my cool science grandma? I'd love to just sit there and learn from all the knowledge she can share!

  93. Tactical Ultimatum says:

    Cows are pretty cool

  94. qrower says:

    "now i'm just making stuff up" 😂

  95. The Dude says:

    yeah man, Romulans

  96. bswtsp21 says:

    Oh girl, party poppers? You should be doing porn!

    My now new favorite octopus scientist.

  97. Nara Feralina says:

    That lady is a savage! 😛

  98. alexmini123 says:

    i don't think its ready to go, i think its fucking dead yo

  99. 4one14 says:

    I love cephalopods, I see a video about octopus sex and I click 🙂
    I also freaking love these two fabulous and hilarious female scientists, would be so neat to chat with them over tea <3

  100. JimandPamfan says:

    Guess who I saw at the field museum today! Janet is super cool

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