Do we look alike? More than it seems. Especially in the matter of the brain, don’t you think? The resemblance between octopuses and humans is really remarkable. Their brains have several points in common with ours. Science explains it. Recent research from the Max Delbruck Center in Berlin provides more details.
The work was published in Science Advances. It was led by Nikolaus Rajewsky. It argues that octopuses have evolved over several years of evolution a very wide variety of microRNAs. As much as that developed by vertebrates.
“We can get from an example an idea of scale. Oysters are also mollusks. But they have acquired only five new microRNA families since their last ancestors that they shared with octopuses. Meanwhile, octopuses have acquired 90.” Grygoriy Zolotarov, co-author of the research, said.
This is an enormous ability to modify their genes. It would explain the intelligence of cephalopods. Unlike vertebrates, they developed distinct brain capabilities. The most outstanding is that of possessing a central and peripheral nervous system that can act independently.
“This is the third largest expansion of microRNA families in the animal world. And the largest outside of vertebrates,” Zolotarov maintained.
How did they identify the miRNA families? The researchers located the last common species between octopuses and humans. It is known as Facivermis yunnanicus. A species of worm with eyes that lived more than 518 million years ago.
Subsequently, they used 18 tissue samples from actual dead octopus. There, 42 new miRNA families were located. Mainly in neural tissue and brain.
This extension of their genetic modification capacity is “what connects us to the octopus.” This according to Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky. These invertebrate beings are thought to have cognitive abilities that humans (and vertebrates in general) possess. For example, the ability to be curious, to have memory and even to dream. The resemblance between octopuses and humans is striking, but real.