Octopuses are bizarre, fascinating creatures. Often described as being almost alien in their mannerisms and movements, a group of scientists have revealed evidence in a new paper that the animals may have otherworldly origins.
Evolution of a species changes its DNA, but octopuses can actively edit their DNA in ways that set them apart from other sea life. Although they bear some similarities to snails, Octopus are believed to have far greater intellectual capability than genetically close species. They have been observed using tools, solving puzzles, communicating with humans and escaping captivity – traits that are unique to their species.
Of course, octopuses have long been linked to horror and science fiction, influencing the design of aliens and monsters for decades. The most recognisable octopus like figure is the legendary Cthulhu from the cosmic horror stories of H.P Lovecraft.
They have a long record of being viewed as alien and eerie. “No animal is more savage in causing the death of man in the water, for it struggles with him by coiling round him and it swallows him with sucker-cups and drags him asunder,” wrote Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia in 79 AD.
“The genetic divergence of Octopus from its ancestral coleoid sub-class is very great … 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” the paper explains.
The new research goes on to propose that the creatures may not be from our planet and in fact may have otherworldly origins. In a theory called panspermia, octopuses owe their complex genomes to astrological evolution. The paper explains that Earth was “seeded” by space dust or asteroids crashing into Earth. One of its first proponents, Chandra Wickramasinghe, is one of the authors of the new paper.
The paper has been disputed, with researchers pointing out that we now better understand the complicated DNA of the octopus. Virologist Karin Moelling of the Max Planck Institute Molecular Genetics warned that “this article is useful, calling for attention, and it is worth thinking about, yet the main statement about viruses, microbes and even animals coming to us from space, cannot be taken seriously.”
Whether they are of earthly or cosmic origin, octopuses are among the most interesting and odd creatures in the world.