A new DNA study has revealed that octopuses are so weird that they may be categorized as ‘aliens’.
Researchers from the University of California conducted their study on a two-spot California octopus, discovering the probable reasons behind octopuses’ evolved central nervous systems and their fantastic ability to deceptively camouflage.
The late British zoologist Martin Wells was the first to describe the sea-inhabiting creatures as “aliens,” primarily because octopuses’ protein-coding structures are much more evolved than even humans.
But now the first full cephalopod genome sequence shows that octopuses (not to be confused with octopi) are extremely different from any other animal – with their genome showing a staggering level of complexity. The new DNA study, published in the scientific journal Nature, has identified the presence of more than 33,000 protein-coding genes in octopuses, significantly more than humans.
And that is not all. According to Irish Examiner, scientists also confirmed that the DNA of an octopus is highly rearranged- like cards shuffled and reshuffled in a pack – containing several “jumping genes” that can leap around the genome.
Humans have often found themselves astounded by octopuses’ abilities to carry out functions which would be deemed impossible for most animals – now we know why it is so easy for an octopus to open a jar of jam!
In fact, Inquisitr recently reported a case where an octopus broke out of an aquarium in Seattle, much to the horror and surprise a number of visitors present there.
But escaping out of a tank or a jar is the very least we could expect from these highly evolved beings. American oceanographer David Gallo has extensively documented the octopuses’ abilities to camouflage themselves when under threat. Basically shapeshifting creatures, octopuses can assume the texture and color of their surroundings to ward off underwater predators.
In this amazing video below, you can see an octopus camouflaging itself by almost ‘turning’ itself into coral algae.
Metro reported University of California researcher Dr. Clifton Ragsdale talking about why the latest study has forced scientists to dub octopuses as ‘aliens’.
“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 abilities. Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”
So next time if you see an octopus conducting a strange and unbelievable feat, relax. Just know that octopuses are way ahead of us, and in that regard, they are our only home-grown “aliens.”
[Photo by Brian Gratwicke/Flickr]