Octopus Predicts Germany’s World Cup Results

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In the mythology of World Cup teams, the German squad is viewed as efficient, reliable, and resistant to choking. (Except, of course, in their surprise loss to Serbia.)  This solid reputation hasn’t prevented Germans, however, from resorting to unusual means to divine their team's fate. As Der Spiegel reports, one of the more popular--and accurate--sports prognosticators of this World Cup is an octopus named Paul.

Paul is a smallish cephalopod in the western German city of Oberhausen who finds himself in a klieg-lit tank at the Sea Life public aquarium before each Germany game during this year's world championship. His handlers bait glass cubes with mussels and mark them with national flags. The mussel Paul chooses first is meant to indicate -- at least to his handlers -- a prophecy for the upcoming game.
Skeptics scoff, but Paul is two for two so far.

Staff tending to Paul at the Sea Life public aquarium claim he held an "80 percent record of forecasts" at a previous European tournament. But the gift doesn't extend to all German beasts. Other species have more spotted records. A pygmy hippo named "Petty" failed to guess the Serbia-Germany outcome, while a porcupine named "Leon" flubbed the match with Australia.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.