Biologists have discovered a surprising similarity between the genetics and the mind of humans and octopuses

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine have suggested that the human species got its complex brain in the same way that octopuses do.

Previous studies have shown that when environmental conditions change, octopuses change their RNA sequences extremely quickly.

Usually, adaptation begins with a change in DNA genes, which can be compared with a cookbook, and RNA with a recipe written on a separate sheet. Changing information on a piece of paper is much easier than reprinting a book.

The authors of the new work suggested that this flexibility of RNA is somehow related to the repertoire of microRNAs – small molecules that can specifically bind to a specific section of RNA.

In this case, there is an increase or decrease in the activity of the production of the substance for the synthesis of which RNA is responsible.

After analyzing 18 samples obtained from dead octopuses Octopus vulgaris, Octopus bimaculoides and squid Euprymna scolopes, the scientists confirmed their hypothesis.

In cephalopods, 138 miRNA families were found, of which 42 families were new and were found mainly in the brain and nervous tissue.

This discovery put octopuses in the third place in terms of microRNA diversity in the animal world and in the first place among invertebrates.

The number of microRNAs in octopuses is the same as in vertebrates, such as chickens and frogs.

By comparison, oysters and octopuses once shared a common ancestor. Since then, the former have acquired only five new families of microRNAs, and octopuses – 90.

Only once such large-scale acquisitions occurred in vertebrates – the human genome encodes about 2600 mature miRNAs.

The discovery, the researchers say, suggests that complex intelligence, including that of cephalopods, may be related to this microRNA expansion.

It has previously been proven that the brain of a squid is almost as complex as that of a dog. There is even evidence that octopuses can dream, which is rarely confirmed in invertebrates.

Unlike other intelligent animals, their nervous system is highly distributed: a significant part of the 500 million neurons are scattered around the arms.

Each arm is capable of making decisions independently and may even continue to respond to stimuli after separation.


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