After studying an octopus’ genome, scientists concluded that the intelligent creatures are basically aliens.
You learn at a young age that octopuses have eight tentacles… and that’s about it. Unless inspiration hits to research more about the many-legged creatures, the fact that they have an enormous head and three hearts usually goes unnoticed.
But that’s not where the cool facts concerning this species end. Recently, scientists studying the genetic code of octopi discovered that they are “something like an alien.”
Said Clifton Ragsdale, a neurobiologist of the University of Chicago to UChicago News:
“The octopus appears to be utterly different from all other animals, even other molluscs, with its eight prehensile arms, its large brain and its clever problem-solving capabilities. The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”
According to Nature, by studying the creatures’ unusually large DNA sequence, researchers were able to understand “how the cephalopods, a class of free-floating molluscs, produced a creature that is clever enough to navigate highly complex mazes and open jars filled with tasty crabs.”
In scientists’ latest study, they found that the genome of an octopus is as large as a human’s. It was also discovered that octopi (an English variation of referring to the species in plural) also have 33,000 protein-coding genes – that’s about 8,000 more than humans!
What that means…
This means that newly discovered genetic traits are the most likely reason octopi can manipulate light and are highly adapted to camouflage.
“The octopus genome makes studies of cephalopod traits much more tractable and now represents an important point on the tree of life for comparative evolutionary studies,” Ragsdale said. “It is an incredible resource that opens up new questions that could not have been asked before about these remarkable animals.”
By seeking to understand their genome, scientists can receive “insights into how the sophisticated cognitive skills of octopuses evolved,” says neurobiologist Benny Hochner at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
While everyone was looking toward the night sky for proof of aliens, it seems they should have instead been scouring the oceans.
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What is intelligence?
Intelligence is defined as the ability to acquire information and apply knowledge or skills. Intelligence in non-human animals is called animal cognition (10). There are several topics that are tested in any animal cognition test:
- Attention: The ability to focus on a single variable when faced with numerous stimuli.
- Categorization: The ability to distinguish between numerous categories of stimuli.
- Memory: The study of different types of memories. I.E. short-term,long-term, spatial… etc.
- Spatial Reasoning: The ability to manage the environment, and the degree of efficency.
- Tool Use: The ability to use parts of the environment in a manner in which it was not designed specifically for.
- Problem Solving: Self explanatory, the ability to solve problems
- Language: The ability to communicate within a specific species.
- Consciousness: The ability to formulate a self concept of themselves.
The Brain of the Octopus:
The octopus brain is fundamentally different from any vertabrate due to its position in the body, its design and functionality. Unlike any vertabrate, the octopus’ brain is located directly above its mouth and below its “head.” It surrounds the esophagus, using it almost like a spine for stability purposes. It does not sit in any vestiage, and is not protected by any hard tissue
In a study of animal cognition, the nervous system of animal is indirectly scrutinized. Since vertabrate nervous systems are all relatively similar, the process rarely varies but with any invertabrate, such as the ocotopus, the process of understanding its intelligence becomes foundamentaly different