Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Evolution, aging, and death: Female octopus doesn’t really age


Further to “Researchers: Some life forms don’t grow old or lose fertility, challenging an assumption about evolution,” Slawek Bioslawek (whose logo is pictured left) noted that female octopuses do not typically undergo an aging process, but rather die after laying eggs. If a gland that initiates the process that ends in death is removed, she stops mating and can attain a great age.

I looked into this and found a 1977 paper which explained,

Female Octopus hummelincki lays eggs, broods them, reduces its food intake, and dies after the young hatch. Removal of both optic glands after spawning results in cessation of broodiness, resumption of feeding, increased growth, and greatly extended life-span. Optic gland secretions may cause death of most cephalopods and may function to control population size.

Note the last phrase, “may function to control population size.”

What? Starvation doesn’t work? It works for just about every other life form. Classic Darwinian just-so story. Essentially, because humans “age,” we tend to assume that other life forms must do so as well. “Must” is a big little word. We should use it cautiously around life forms.

We don’t know why female octopuses die after laying eggs. This octopus seems not to have died, but then the eggs were not viable anyway.

What do you think of Bioslawek’s logo?

– O’Leary for News


Leave a Reply