What distinguishes our planet from those we know (for the moment) is the presence of many forms of living beings, all different from each other. However, in the waters of the Earth, there are small animals whose characteristics are often compared to those of aliens: the octopuses.
Anil Seth, a British neuroscientist, also agrees on the uniqueness of the octopus. Do you think that there are even theories that identify these beings as from another planet. Obviously, there are too many proofs that justify the terrestrial origin of the creature and, to these, another one has been added just recently, thanks to the group of scientists led by the systems biologist Nikolaus Rajewsky, of the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine.
In the brain of octopuses, a trait shared with that of humans was found: a large repertoire of microRNAs in neural tissue. The nervous system of cephalopods is very vast and ramified, with as many as 500 million neurons scattered throughout their tentacles. Each arm is autonomous and capable of making decisions independently; this would be demonstrated by the high reactivity of the limb even after being severed.
Also, octopuses and other cephalopods are capable of modify their RNA sequences in record time, in order to better adapt to the environment in which they find themselves. Normally, for the information conveyed by RNA to change, there should be a precise instruction from the DNA.
Rajewsky’s team analyzed 18 samples (obtained from dead octopuses), and then sequence the RNA from Octopus vulgaris, the common octopus. However, the study also observed theOctopus bimaculoides of California and theEuprymna scolopes of Hawaii.
“There were indeed a lot of RNA changes going on, but not in areas that we think are of interest”, Rajewsky explains.
What the team found is that octopuses have a large concentration of microRNAs. MicroRNAs are non-coding RNA molecules that are heavily involved in the regulation of gene expressionbinding to larger RNA molecules to help cells synthesize needed proteins.
The fact that these microRNA families have been conserved in the octopus, as well as RNA binding sites, suggests that they still play a role in octopus biology; however, what ends they serve is still a mystery to scientists.
By the way, did you know that octopuses have a tragic destiny already written?