Animal minds Extraterrestrial life Intelligent Design

At Mind Matters News: Science paper: Could octopuses be aliens from outer space?

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It’s the octopus’s intelligence that causes such usual theses to float in the science literature:


A 2018 science paper that suggests that they might be is receiving new attention. The basic thesis is that the Cambrian Explosion, which produced most of the basic animal life forms we see today, was the outcome of extraterrestrial viruses carried on a meteor that crashed onto Earth 540 million years ago. The underlying theory is panspermia, a hypothesis espoused by Francis Crick, that some viruses and bacteria travel on the tails of comets or meteors and may take root on planets:

These comets could have introduced Earth to novel life-forms that evolved on other planets, including viruses, durable microorganisms like unearthly tardigrades or, as the new study suggests, even fertilized animal eggs from other worlds.

Brandon Spektor, “No, Octopuses Don’t Come From Outer Space” at Live Science (May 17, 2018)


Tardigrades (water bears) do survivfe space conditions so an extraterrestrial origin cannot be ruled out in principle. But octopuses? Bear with us.

Now, a group of 33 scientists from respected institutions around the world have suggested these bizarre creatures descend from organic alien material. Their research, published in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, ties the “remarkable” rise of octopuses and their cephalopod cousins to the theory of panspermia.

Katherine Highnett, “Are Octopuses From Outer Space? Study Suggests Cephalopod Eggs Traveled to Earth on a Comet” at Newsweek (May 17, 2018)

The underlying issue is that octopuses are very strange and very smart (more on that in a moment):

News, “Science paper: Could octopuses be aliens from outer space?” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: There is no simple way of accounting for how smart the eight-armed invertebrate is. So, even if we dismiss an extraterrestrial origin, we still face a mystery.

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.

3 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Science paper: Could octopuses be aliens from outer space?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Trying to think of this in terms of devolution by subtraction doesn’t help.

    Snails and clams have the same basic physical structure as cephalopods but none of the IQ. The normal rule with genomes and human inventions is that the original idea has ALL the wonderful and useful features, then the features get pared down and rubbed off in situations where they aren’t needed.

    This makes sense by itself, but still doesn’t answer why such a peculiar creature was designed in the first place. A jet-propelled animal with tentacles is basic and super-common. Jellyfish fit the description. Why would an animal with this highly successful plan need any intelligence at all?

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    Funny how transpermia in its various guises, none with significant evidence, can be seriously considered as “science”, while ID with all its abundant, confirming evidence is dismissed outright as “pseudo-science”. Clearly a double standard is being applied here!

  3. 3
    doubter says:

    Yes, a very pronounced double standard. It would seem that the proposed extraterrestrial panspermia origin of the Cambrian Explosion animals should really be considered vastly more implausible and ridiculous than ID simply because of the manifold complex affinities in DNA and biochemical structures between the Cambrian Explosion organisms and the single-celled forms that already existed at that time. There clearly is some sort of close relatedness, though not through Darwin’s “tree of life” – that relatedness is obviously due to design.

    It also seems that the proponents of panspermia must be desperate to find some, any, undirected mechanism no matter how unlikely, to deal with the great amount of evidence and research that has accumulated debunking neo-Darwinism.

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