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“Tout fumeur de cigare est un ami car je sais ce qu’il ressent.”

Alfred de Musset


He's No Su...
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He's No Sucker: Paul The Oracle Octopus Is Right For The Seventh Time After Picking Germany To Beat Uruguay To Third Place
He's No Sucker: Paul The Oracle Octopus Is Right For The Seventh Time After Picking Germany To Beat Uruguay To Third Place
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He's no sucker: Paul the oracle octopus is right for the seventh time after picking Germany to beat Uruguay to third place



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He is facing his greatest challenge yet with predicting the outcome of Sunday's World Cup final.

But Paul the 'oracle octopus' has shown he doesn't crack under the pressure after making his seventh correct World Cup prediction.

The mystic mollusc correctly chose Germany would win the third place playoff against Uruguay, and his national team duly obliged after winning 3-2 in Port Elizabeth.




But the knowledgable octopus has been issued with a challenge from an unexpected quarter - Mani, Singapore's psychic parakeet.


Mani - who has, according to his owner, predicted the last five games of the tournament correctly - has thrown the gauntlet down to Paul by predicting that Holland will triumph on Sunday instead.


Germans will be torn in two at the news. Half will be still be wanting to roast Paul with garlic after he predicted - correctly - that their team would lose to Spain at the semi-final.


While the other half will be hoping that Paul - who is, after all, a German octopus - will triumph against Mani, giving them some share in the glory of the World Cup final.



Paul was born in Weymouth in 2006 but now resides in Germany's Oberhausen's Sea Life Aquarium.

He predicts matches by choosing to eat a mussel from boxes emblazoned with the flags of the German team and its rivals.


In the group stages, he correctly predicted German victories over Australia and Ghana and the country's loss to Serbia.


England and Argentina then produced spineless performances in the next two rounds to ensure that Paul's predictions that Germany would win came to pass. Then came Germany's defeat to Spain.




 So how does Paul do it? According to experts, it could all be down to the shape of the competitors' flags.

'Experiments have shown that the Octopus vulgaris can distinguish brightness, size, shape, and horizontal or vertical orientation of objects.

'They are more drawn to horizontal shapes,' said Shelagh Malham, a lecturer in the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University.

But can they see colour? Not according to Janet Voight, associate curator of invertebrates at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.


'No, there's no evidence that octopus have colour vision. The colour red disappears ten feet under water anyway.'

So Paul can't see in colour but is drawn to bold horizontal shapes.

These are just the shapes that appear on the flags of Germany, Spain and Serbia.

But how did he pick between these flags? The German flag is quite bold but the Spanish flag has a broader yellow horizontal stripe, explaining Paul's attraction to Spain. Similarly, the Serbian flag is brighter and more vivid than the German flag.

Although octopuses cannot see specific colours, they can determine differences in hue and brightness. These are probably the factors that led to Paul choosing the teams he did.

Paul became an international sensation - with media around the world today publishing his prediction that Spain will win the final.

Then, along came Mani.

Today the 13-year-old parakeet made his own World Cup prediction - grabbing a card in his beak bearing the flag of the Netherlands.


Mani has become a local celebrity after its owner, M Muniyappan, claimed Mani accurately forecast the World Cup's four quarterfinal games and Spain's semi-final victory over Germany.

'He's a special bird,' Muniyappan said.

Muniyappan, an 80-year-old fortune-teller, said Mani has helped him predict the future for five years at a table in front of a restaurant in the Little India neighbourhood.

But this year's World Cup is the first time the parakeet has attempted to forecast the outcome of sports competitions.

'People usually want help picking the lottery numbers, or when to get married,' said Muniyappan, who was born in India and moved to Singapore in 1953.


'Then gamblers started asking about the World Cup.'

Muniyappan said about 30 people a day now pay for his psychic powers, up from about 10 a day before Mani shot to fame.


Paul first started predicting matches during the 2008 European Championships, when four out of his six choices were correct.

Mathematicians have found the probability of guessing the correct result six times consecutively is less than 0.5 per cent, or 216 to 1.

Paul's soothsaying has turned him into a star in Germany. But he may well prove to be the victim of his own success.



After Argentina lost to Germany in the quarterfinal, the Argentines threatened to capture, kill him and serve him with potatoes.

Even some Germans have turned against their eight-legged oracle, suggesting Oberhausen restaurants should soon offer grilled octopus on their menus.

And he'll need to cash in on his success soon. At the age of four Paul is unusually old for an octopus, which, in the wild, don't usually live much past two years.

This story may not have legs for much longer. . .


See video of Paul picking Spain



See video of Mani picking Holland










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