Researchers at the University of Chicago, teamed with Japanese scientific counterparts at the Okinawa Institute, have set about mapping the Genome of the octopus.
The DNA structure of the octopus is extremely complex, consisting of over and a half billion base pairs and more than 30,000 genes. The Octopus Genome Project was created in order to shed some light on the Cephalopod’s strange abilities. Chosen for examination was the California two-spot octopus, named for the two spots on the sides of its heads which look like additional eyes, a defense against predators. The project has focused on sorting out the mysteries surrounding the creatures “alien” genetic sequencing and bizarre set of talents.
Alien-like octopus in the deep sea
Octopuses are able to do rather intricate tasks with their tentacles, including opening containers and using tools. Octopus suckers are believed to have the ability to taste prey that they have caught. They can also rapidly change the color of their skin, a talent that is under scrutiny due to its usefulness to humans who may one day be able to create clothing with these chameleon features
Of all the many interesting endowments of the Octopus which are worthy of study, the most fascinating discovery made is that they appear to have an ability not commonly found in invertebrate- the capacity for rewriting their genetic code. Humans and other creatures have this capability but at a much lower rate than the octopus. Humans also have a smaller number of genes, a third less than the octopus. Equally fascinating is the fact that scientists had thought the sheer size of the Octopus’s genome was because it was duplicated multiple times throughout its evolutions. They have since discovered no duplication has taken place.
Octopus walks on dry land
Studies into the complex genome structure of the intelligent sea-dweller have long been underrepresented in scientific communities. The findings of the two research teams were published in an edition of Nature recently and Cephalopod scientists are hopeful that more research will be done that they believe will impact multiple scientific fields such as neurobiology and evolution.
Beached octopus thanks rescuer