By A Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:33 AM on 07th July 2008
Marine experts have given 25 octopuses a Rubik's Cube each in a study aimed at easing their stress levels in captivity.
Scientists believe the intelligent sea creatures have a preferred arm out of eight that they use to feed and investigate with.
They are now testing this theory with a month-long observation project in which the octopuses will be given food and toys to play with.
Experts have launched a study at sea life centres across Europe to find out if octopuses have a favourite tentacle
They will then record whether the creatures use a specific limb to pick up the object or if they are octidextrous.
It is hoped the results of the Sea Life Centre study will shed light on 'handiness' in the animal kingdom.
Claire Little, marine expert at the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, Dorset, said the study could eventually help to reduce stress among octopuses.
She said: 'It will be very interesting to see the results.
'Uniquely, octopuses have more than half their nerves in their arms and have even been shown to partially think with their arms.
'We hope the study will help the overall well-being of octopuses. They are very susceptible to stress so if they do have a favourite side to be fed on, it could reduce risk to them."
The octopus research will take place in the 23 branches of the Sea Life Centre attractions Britain and Europe.
A diagram of an octopus will sit alongside the tanks with the arms on the right labelled R1, R2, R3 and R4 from front to back. The left arms will be numbered in the same way but with an L instead of an R.
Items such as a ball, a jam jar and lego bricks will be dropped into the water for the octopuses to play with.
Visitors will then be asked to note down which arm was closest to the object and which arm picked it up.
If the octopus uses several arms, they must write them all down but in the order they touched it.
Staff at the centre will also do the same during feeding time.
Miss Little said: 'Visitors will be handed a form asking them to participate in our study.
'We will add the results to all of the data that has already been collected about octopuses. It will also help towards solving the mystery of handiness in the animal kingdom.'
The results will be analysed by Sea Life Centre biologists and the results will be announced in the autumn.