They Swim Among Us Are Octopuses Actually Extraterrestrials

first_img Anything with eight arms, three hearts, camouflaging skin, and seemingly vast intelligence has to be alien, right?So says a team of 33 international scientists, who recently published a paper suggesting octopuses may actually be extraterrestrials.Published in the March issue of the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, the controversial (and probably false) conclusion states that the awesome animal either borrowed its genes from afar “future,” or “more realistically” hails from the cosmos.The octopus is traditionally believed to have evolved some 300 to 500 million years ago from the primitive nautiloids—now considered its distant cousin. So why is the soft-bodied cephalopod so different from its hard-shelled progenitors?That’s what molecular immunologist Edward Steele, astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe, and 31 other researchers wondered.“The genetic divergence of octopus from its ancestral coleoid sub-class is very great,” according to the paper. “Its large brain and sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies, instantaneous camouflage via the ability to switch color and shape are just a few of the striking features that appear suddenly on the evolutionary scene.”Transformative genes leading from the original nautilus down the line—to cuttlefish to squid to octopus—are not easily found in any pre-existing life form, the authors argued.Fair enough; that seems like a legitimate case for study.But the idea that octopuses arrived on Earth in “an already coherent group of functioning genes” within cryopreserved fertilized eggs, which “arrived in icy bodies several hundred million years ago” is a much harder pill to swallow.These scientists are not the first to consider such outlandish theories: Hawaiian mythology considers the octopus the only living holdover from our world’s previous incarnations.In the 2016 book Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, author Peter Godfrey-Smith decries that the mollusk “is probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.”But while most people still believe octopuses are a product of simple marine evolution, this paper is worthy of review—even with wary eyes.“So this article is useful, calling for attention, and it is worth thinking about,” virologist Karin Moelling of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics wrote in a commentary on the study, as reported by Quartz. “Yet the main statement about viruses, microbes, and even animals coming to us from space cannot be taken seriously.”Nonetheless, the paper survived a year of intense peer review, as Steele told Cosmos: “It has thus passed some severe and torturous tests already,” he said.I’m sure lines like this didn’t help the process along:“Given that the complex sets of new genes in the octopus may have not come solely from horizontal gene transfers or simple random mutations of existing genes or by simple duplicative expansions, it is then logical to surmise, given our current knowledge of the biology of comets and their debris, the new genes and their viral drivers most likely came from space.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Watch: Deep-Sea Octopus ‘Billows Like a Circus Tent’Watch: Stunning, Rainbow-Colored Blanket Octopus Caught on Camera Stay on targetlast_img

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