For the first time since the question was asked last century, researchers in Taiwan have confirmed that cephalopods (octopuses, squid, cuttlefish and nautiluses) can perceive sound. They might not have a swim bladder connected to tiny otoliths to help them amplify and transmit sound like fish do, but it has been suggested that they use a sac-like structure called a statocyst to achieve the same function.
While the squid were found to have better hearing than the octopuses, their ranges between 400Hz and 1000Hz and 400Hz to 1500Hz respectively, lead researcher, Hong Young Yan of the Taiwan National Academy of Science, reports that, “Both species hear best at a frequency of 600Hz.”
So cephalopods can hear then. The rest of the sea creatures had better catch on to this quick-smart, or pretty soon a couple of unfortunate saddle wrasses are going to find themselves in the back of the common room at lunchtime being all, “Huh? Wait – you just heard that? Shit. Well okay, don’t be pissed, I mean, it’s actually a compliment because your tentacles really do look awesome in that skirt. Um yeah alright, so we did say Mel’s looked slightly more awesome, but it’s because her skirt is a bit shorter than yours, you know? But it’s cool because you tell heaps better jokes than her anyway.”
And then the cephalopod would give them this totally withering look because everyone knows Mel has all the personality of a comatose brittle star, and one of the saddle wrasses would start fumbling desperately for something in his pocket while the other one grins uselessly at the angelfish playing Tekkin (pretty badly) on the other side of the room. But then it’s like, “Oh! Here, I made this in D&T this morning. You can have it. It fully looks like a rabbit, you like them or something, right?”
And then before the cephalopod could point out that he’d actually just given her a flattened lump of solder with a couple of unintentional protrusions that happened to look sort of vaguely like ears, the saddle wrasses are all, “What’s that? Brandings? Now? Awesome! Strawberry clouds and teeth after class later, yeah?”
Original paper here.