At Nature: “Octopus genome holds clues to uncanny intelligence — DNA sequence expanded in areas otherwise reserved for vertebrates.” ““It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” jokes neurobiologist Clifton Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who co-led the genetic analysis of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides).”
Oh? How was that?
“Evolution of novel genes”? Isn’t that the question at hand? Where do novel genes come from? They found “a suite of octopus-and cephalopod-specific genes” that seem to have appeared out of nowhere. As for mechanisms that “can drive genomic novelty,” their list does little more than assume that making more of existing things and shuffling them around will create novel things that do something useful. Try that with a copy machine, a book, and scissors. “Modification of gene regulatory networks” is no help, either. Stephen Meyer documented in Darwin’s Doubt how modifications to GRNs are almost always lethal, and never innovative. – David Coppedge
The researchers reach for convergent evolution — but convergent with what?
The octopus — a highly intelligent short-lived exothermic invertebrate — should sink lectern-splintering Darwinism — but then the octo does not have tenure and many of the lectern splinterers do. That’s life. But so is finding out the facts.
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.
2 Replies to “Unique octopus genes seem to have appeared from nowhere”
That should be “ectothermic”, not “exothermic”.
Yes, good catch!
FWIW, I learned the term as poikilothermic (versus homoeothermic), but the addition of mesothermic is appropriate as a manually regulated internal body temperature, such as in many reptiles. Tangentially, some people have speculated that large dinosaurs would not have been able to maintain their internal body temperature without being “endothermic.”
An engaging, conversational, and somewhat sentimental book on the subject is The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. It explores the relationship between the author and several of these amazing mollusks!
It’s very sad that they basically fall apart after reproducing.