They say Octopuses are aliens: or at least, their genetic composition is so completely foreign in comparison to every other type of creature, they could be considered aliens. A couple years ago scientists embarked on a quest to sequence the first genome in their “Octopus Genome Project,” which was called a huge leap forward in understanding the strange creature.
Their findings were incredibly unexpected. The California two-spot octopus was chosen by researchers from the University of Chicago. Then, the researchers learned that a similar project to theirs was already underway in Japan at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. So, the two teams of researchers teamed up, and together they discovered the extremely unusual DNA possessed by the cephlapods.
Their research was published in the journal Nature.
What’s strange is, octopuses have about 10,000 more genes than a human, which equals about 33,000 genes. This is different from just about every other invertebrate (animal without a spine) in the world.
Have you ever seen those videos of octopuses escaping seemingly inescapable situations?
Octopuses are incredibly intelligent, gifted with the ability to open jars, use tools, and even solve puzzles. Some scientists literally believe it may be from another planet.
A similar set of genes to the ones found in human beings were actually discovered when these researchers began to sequence the 33,000 genes. They make up a neural network in the octopus brain, and this is credited with giving the creatures their uncanny ability to learn and adapt.
Of course, human beings also have physically large brains, eyes with an iris, retina, and lens, and a closed circulatory system.
Independently it seems, these features developed in these sea creatures that evolved far away from the habitat of human beings. This might say something about the nature of life itself, and shows that similar qualities can develop in life whether the creature is a mammal or an invertebrate.
The octopus’ ability to disguise and camouflage itself was another primary focus of this study. Now that they have the sequence coded out, the researchers can observe exactly how an octopus can change its skin: in a short time, even milliseconds. Scientists say that if the way this works can be understood, major breakthroughs in engineering, neuroscience, and other fields may be possible, based on creating structures or articles of clothing perhaps that have the ability to camouflage, like a chameleon.
One notable discovery was the fact that octopuses apparently have a heightened ability to improve and change its own genetic code. In human beings and other animals this is common, it could be called epi-genetics, but the way octopuses do it is different. The can edit their own RNA, adapt to the extreme cold of the deep ocean by adapting their nerves, and more.
The researchers also took a careful look at the genes that compose the suckers on the octopus tentacles. The tentacles in fact allow the creature to taste things.
Still, even more may be discovered by this project. 2 years ago it was reported that they had only begun mapping out the octopus genome.
Could octopuses be from Earth, or somewhere else? Maybe all life can adapt like this.