Humans and Octopuses are descended from the same primitive, worm-like animal 518 million years ago. This could explain why eight-limbed creatures have high intelligence.
Facivermis, also known as Facivermis, yunnanicus was the first known animal to evolve to lose body parts and was only minimally intelligent.
A new study led by Max Delbruck Centre, Berlin found octopuses’ brains are similar to humans because the marine animal has a variety of gene regulators called microRNAs (miRNAs) in their neural tissue comparable to the number in vertebrates.
The findings suggest miRNAs, a type of RNA gene, play a fundamental role in developing complex brains.
And this is ‘what connects us to the octopus,’ co-author Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky said in a statement to SWS.
This means that their brains can be compared to human intelligence. This could be why they are intelligent.
Octopuses are known for their intelligence. According to SWNS, they can use tools and carry coconut shells as shelter. They can also stack rocks to protect their dens.
Scientists have been studying the intelligence of octopuses for many years, as they learn to solve puzzles or open screw-top bottles.
Recently, they were even caught throwing rocks and shells at one another.
Cephalopods are a group that includes squid, cuttlefish and octopuses.
The study analyzed 18 different tissue samples from dead octopuses and identified 42 novel miRNA families – mainly in the brain.
The genes were conserved during cephalopod evolution – being of functional benefit to the animals.
‘There was indeed a lot of RNA editing going on, but not in areas that we believe to be of interest,’ said Rajewsky.
The creature, known as Facivermis yunnanicus, is the earliest known example of animals evolving to lose body parts it no longer needed and was minimally intelligent
The study examined 18 types of tissue from dead Octopuses and identified 42 novel miRNA family members, most notably in the brain. These genes were conserved in cephalopod evolution and are of functional benefit to animals.
What was the worm-like critter?
2020 study claims that a worm from the seafloor 518million years ago was the first known instance of an animal evolving to lose its body parts.
The evolution of Facivermis — a worm-like creature that lived around 518 million years ago in the so-called Cambrian period of China — has long been a mystery.
It had a long body that could reach upto 2.2 inches and five spiny arms near the head. The tail was pear-shaped with spikes.
The unusual creature lived a tube-dwelling lifestyle, anchored on the sea floor — because of which it evolved to lose its lower limbs.
“The most fascinating discovery was the rapid expansion of a well-known collection of RNA genes, microRNAs.
A total of 42 novel miRNA families were found – specifically in neural tissue and mostly in the brain.’
These genes were preserved during cephalopod evolutionary, so the team concluded they were useful to animals and functionally necessary.
Grygoriy Zlotarov, the lead author, stated that this was the third largest expansion in microRNA families in animals and the largest outside vertebrates.
“To give you an idea about the scale of things, oysters (which are also mollusks) have only acquired five new microRNA families from the last ancestors that they shared with the octopuses. The octopuses acquired 90.
Rajewsky said that oysters are not known for being intelligent. Rajewsky’s fascination with octopuses started years ago, when Rajewsky visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.
He Explained: “I saw this creature sitting at the bottom of the tank and we spent several hours – so I thought– looking at eachother.
“It’s not very scientific but their eyes do exude intelligence. Humans also have similar ‘camera” eyes, but Octopuses are equipped with similarly sophisticated ‘camera’ eyes.
They are unique among all invertebrates because they have both a central and peripheral nervous systems that can independently function.
Scientists have been studying the intelligence of octopuses for a long time, watching them solve puzzles and open screw-top containers. Recent footage shows them throwing shells and rocks at each other (pictured).
An octopus that loses a tentacle can still touch its skin and move if it is not damaged.
Only Octopuses have such intricate brain functions. They use their arms to do so.
They are used by the creatures to open shells, or to strike at predators with weapons.
They are curious and have a great memory. They can identify people and they like certain people more than others.
They may even dream, as they can change their skin color or structure while they sleep.
Rajewsky stated that ‘if you want an alien to meet, go diving and make friends (with an octopus)’
Rajewsky will now join forces with other specialists to form an European network that will enable greater exchange.