Octopus as Oracle: German Aquariums Compete to Find New Paul


A team of scientists at the aquarium came up with the idea of predicting games three years ago during the European football championship. Octopi are intelligent creatures who need activities, and they keep them busy by having them take lids off of jars. Retrieving a mussel from the box was a progression from there, Walenciak said. Paul the Octopus also successfully predicted four of Germany's six matches in that 2008 European championship.

Already, at least a dozen journalists in Berlin have registered to attend the first test of Ophira's capacity for prophesy. At 11 a.m. on June 24, the eight different octopi will simultaneously be offered a choice between Germany and Canada, who meet on June 26 in the World Cup's opening game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It doesn't matter if Ophira decides not to choose one of the two boxes with a mussel in it, or if it takes her two hours to make the choice, says Zerbe.

"Everything is voluntary," Zerbe says. "If she doesn't want to do it, she doesn't have to."

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