Proposals to farm octopuses are meeting with opposition on grounds of animal cruelty
Underlying the ethical issues is the admitted fact that the evolution of animal intelligence, however it happened, is nowhere near as tidy as we once believed:
Octopuses present something of a puzzle. As Canadian investigative journalist Erin Anderssen pointed out earlier this month, “The octopus has already challenged our theories on evolution, intelligence and consciousness.”
Evolution? We have tended to assume that intelligence rose with the development of a spinal cord and brain (vertebrates), and warmbloodedness (mammals and birds). So invertebrates like octopuses were expected to be “naturally” less intelligent than, say, raccoons. But they are not less intelligent. They have been called a “second genesis” of intelligence and the jury’s still out on how they came to be so. Some have made the argument — only partly in jest — that they might be alien life forms.
They defy stereotypes. Intelligence is believed by many researchers to have evolved naturally because of the need to get along in groups:Denyse O’Leary, “If octopuses are really smart, should we eat them?” at Mind Matters News
But the octopus defies that plausible evolution of intelligence thesis because it isn’t social at all; it is a loner.
Did you know: On account of their apparent (and unique) intelligence, octopuses are currently given more legal protection than most invertebrates.
You may also wish to read: Octopuses get emotional about pain, research suggests. The smartest of invertebrates, the octopus, once again prompts us to rethink what we believe to be the origin of intelligence. The brainy cephalopods behaved about the same as lab rats under similar conditions, raising both neuroscience and ethical issues.