Thursday, April 14, 2016

Octupus Intelligence Explained by Genome

Octopi are known as one of the most intelligent invertebrate sea creatures. Unlike other mollusks, octopi have learned how to play when in capitivty, use tools in the wild, and even observe their surroundings and what is happening when in an aquarium. Given their independance and intelligence similar to mammals, scientists wondered how they have evolved. A study was conducted, The sequencings of the octopus genome, suggests that the octopus "have the same small repertoire of neurotransmission genes as lower mollsusks". An evolutionary biologist, Daniel Rokhar, suggested that given the limited set of nervous system building blocks, the development of advanced intelligence would be expected to be absent.

The study resulted in the findings of two gene families that point to the origin of mollusk's highly-developed intelligence. The two familied are protocadherins, "which steer neurons to connect into complex circuits during development and C2H2 since finger transcription factors, which turn other genes on and off with exquisite precision". the C2Hs gene could be the enabling factor to express the genome more than other mollusks. The combination of the gene families could have "allowed the octopus to build unique neural circuits serving functions such as a memory, navigation and planning.

Personally, I find this article very interesting due to my general interest in marine biology. Octopi possess the ability to learn, change color and use strategic planning in the wild. As an invertebrate, these characteristics are astounding! These studies on the protocadherins and C2H2 genes could give insight into other innvertebrate intelligences that could one day be used to benefit humans in medicine or in the wild.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like every year they find another new thing about octopi that just make them even more amazing then they already are