Monday, July 12, 2010

Kerrazy Kraken

The football worldcup is finally over, thank god.

Just in case you didn't know;
  • Spain won
  • Diego Forlan (Uruguay) got the Golden Ball (!) for best player of the tournament
  • Thomas Müller (Germany) got best young player & the Golden Boot for most goals
  • Ike Casillas (Spain) was awarded the Golden Glove for being the best goalie

But the surprise star of the last four weeks has to be Paul the octopus.

Since the UEFA 2008 tournament Paul has been predicting, with a decent rate of success it would appear, the outcome of Germany's matches (getting 4 out of 6 correct in that tournament).

This summer though his fame has increased with German TV broadcasting Paul's predictions.

Of course he has his doubters, those who say he shows a preference for flags with lots of red in them, but this can't be true as octopi (I think the correct plural is octopuses, but I prefer to use octopi) are believed to be colour blind, however they are thought to be the most intelligent of all the invertebrates (a bigger bunch of spineless idiots you couldn't hope to find) and
individuals can distinguish brightness as well as an object's size, shape, and orientation. Shelagh Malham of Bangor Uni. states that they are drawn to horizontal shapes, and indeed, there are horizontal stripes on the flags he chooses.

Matthew Fuller, the senior Aquarist at the Weymouth park, judged the flag-shape theory to be plausible, saying that studies have shown Octopi are able to distinguish shapes and patterns, so maybe Paul can recognise flags. Vyacheslav Bisikov, a Russian biologist, agrees that it is possible for an octopus to become attracted to a striped flag. However, Pascal Coutant, director of the La Rochelle Aquarium disagrees thinking that complete chance that guides Paul's choices.

Interestingly, when Paul this year predicted that Spain would beat Germany, the Germans took this to be a good sign (yeah, I know!) because (pay attention now) in the 2008 UEFA thingummy wotsit Paul forecast Germany to win but Spain did, so this time when he 'said' that Spain would beat Germany the (normally pessimistic) Germans decided that Paul was just getting it the wrong way round like the last time the 2 countries played one another. How wrong they were!

It seems unlikely, however, that Paul will be able to do much predicting for the next European footie championship seeing as in the wild octopi only live for 12-18 months, so Paul could well be dead by then, a new oracle will be required.

It turns out that Paul's an expat like me (although I don't have 8 limbs, 3 hearts and am unable to breathe underwater). He was hatched in the Sealife Centre in Weymouth in 2008 before getting a lucrative transfer to Oberhausen (about 40 minutes drive away from me).

Sushi, anyone?

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