News ID: 240303
Published: 1125 GMT March 16, 2019

Are octopuses aliens? 'There's something going on behind their eyes'

Are octopuses aliens? 'There's something going on behind their eyes'

A marine biologist has had her say on an extraordinary claim that octopuses evolved from extraterrestrial ‘cryopreserved’ eggs hundreds of millions of years ago, which if true might explain their extraordinary intelligence and complexity.

Dr. Helen Scales is due to deliver a talk at the Cambridge Science Festival tomorrow at which she will consider the theory, as well looking at the reasons why they are so clever, reported.

The 2018 study, entitled ‘Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic?’ was coauthored by a group of 33 scientists and published in the Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology journal.

The paper suggests that the explanation for the sudden flourishing of life during the Cambrian era — often referred to as the Cambrian Explosion — lies in the stars, as a result of the Earth being bombarded by clouds of organic molecules.

The paper states: “The genome of the octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than is present in Homo sapiens.

“One plausible explanation, in our view, is that the new genes are likely new extraterrestrial imports to Earth — most plausibly as an already coherent group of functioning genes within (say) cryopreserved and matrix protected fertilized octopus eggs.”

Scales, whose new book, ‘Octopuses: A Ladybird Expert Book’, will be published on Thursday, March 21, does not actually buy the idea herself, saying, “They claim they have evidence to support their theory that extraterrestrial viruses came to earth around 500 million years ago and kick starting the Cambrian explosion.

“But there really is no proof that this is where viruses came from, and this doesn’t explain how they formed in the first place.

“Genetic evidence tells us that octopuses evolved from squid ancestors around 135 million years ago.

“The authors of the study argue that other unconventional ideas in the history of science have later turned out to be true. But that really doesn’t prove anything.

“There are plenty of other outlandish theories that aren’t true.

“Really, this paper just poses an interesting idea, which is perhaps worth thinking about, but there's no proof backing it up.”

Nevertheless, she emphasized the uniqueness of the remarkable cephalopods, often regarded as the most intelligent of all invertebrates.

She said, “There's something instantly captivating about octopuses. I think it's because they look and behave so differently from any other animals.

“All those arms and suckers that twist and hold onto things, their ability to change shape and color with such sophistication and control, the way they can squeeze into tiny spaces then peep out with those big eyes watching you.

“Every time I've met an octopus in the wild I've had a strong sense that they're watching me and contemplating what I'm up to.

“There's definitely something powerful going on behind their eyes.”

During her talk, Scales will consider why octopuses have blue blood, and three hearts, why they navigate the seas by jet propulsion, and how their massive brains extend into their arms, giving them special sensory abilities.

She added, “What really marks them out is the fact that they’ve evolved highly complex nervous systems and complex behaviors that are not at all normal for invertebrates, animals without backbones.

“In my talk I’ll be considering how and why octopuses evolved such big brains, and what they tell us about the evolution of intelligence.”




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