by Katie Bowell, Curator of Cultural Interpretation
Have you met Paul, the Psychic German Octopus?
During this year’s World Cup, people have used all sorts of indicators to predict the outcome of a match, from the stats on a team’s previous games to the direction the wind is blowing to whether or not the goalie is wearing his lucky socks. However, I’m pretty sure Germany is the only country using an invertebrate.
Paul, the Psychic Octopus, a resident of the Sea Life Oberhausen Aquarium in Germany, has successfully predicted the outcome of each of Germany’s matches in the World Cup. How did he do it? Staff at the aquarium offer him mussels in two containers before each match; one container adorned with Germany’s flag, the other with its opponent’s. Whichever box Paul chose was his tip to win the match, and even through Wednesday’s game against Spain, when Germany’s winning streak came to an end, Paul was never wrong.
Now, is Paul really psychic? Well, he does have nine brains… However, just like with humans, psychic ability has never been proven in animals. It’s much more likely that Paul’s choices have been mere coincidence and we’ve all been fooled. And, if that’s the case, Paul won’t be the first octopus to fool those around him. And, truth be told, he isn’t even the best. I’d give that honor to the Mimic octopus, a species first discovered in the 1990s. Paul can chose between boxes, but the Mimic octopus can change color and impersonate flounders, lion fish and sea snakes. That’s the octopus I’m betting on.
P.S. I suppose we could also call Paul a prognoctopus. But that would be just too many nerdy vocabulary jokes for one day.