“I don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl, just so long as it’s healthy and has all eight tentacles”

If you’re a cultural conservative, worried about the decline of family values, hope has just arrived — from our cephalopod comrades, and a heartwarming tale of the special love that burns between an octopus and her kids.

Aurora, an aging, 4-year-old giant Pacific Octopus in captivity, recently gave birth to an enormous mess of eggs. But since she was really old and the eggs didn’t look too good, her attending scientists figured they probably wouldn’t hatch. And indeed, things looked grim. Though Aurora tended the eggs for six long months — constantly blowing fresh water over them and refusing to eat, while she tended her unborn children — the eggs showed no signs of hatching.

According to CNN, the scientists had pretty much given up by the end of last year, when they got a surprise:

Aurora didn’t even give up in December when aquarists, convinced the eggs weren’t fertile — began draining her 3,600-gallon tank. As the water went down and she was going down with it, she sprayed her eggs, now exposed and drying on a rock.

Sharp-eyed intern Meghan Kokal saved the day. Some eggs were placed in her palm and she gave them a close look, asking about the two red dots. The dots turned out to be developing eyes.

Sure enough, the eggs were hatching — more slowly than usual because Aurora is in an Alaskan tank and the water is colder than her natural habitat. That’s one of the babies above.

I can’t believe how cute baby octopi are. Look at those tiny ‘lil tentacles! And the big head!

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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