Similarities found between squid and human brains

(ORDO NEWS) — Although squids are inferior in intelligence to their fellow octopuses, they still have relatively high cognitive abilities, like, in fact, all other cephalopods. But what is the reason for their high intelligence?

Recently, we talked about a study in which scientists found that in the genome of octopuses, as in humans, a large number of “jumping genes”.

They are mostly dormant, but the LINE genes, which are important for learning and memory formation, are active.

In a new study, scientists have found another similarity between the brains of humans and cephalopods.

It turns out that he developed according to the same “evolutionary plan”, despite the fact that the time difference was 500 million years.

Cephalopods are smarter than many other marine animals

Cephalopods are a class of marine animals that include squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses.

An interesting feature of these mollusks is that their brain is enclosed in a cartilaginous box, in fact, the skull. Their cognitive abilities have long been admired by biologists.

Unlike other invertebrates, cephalopods have an excellent memory. Moreover, they are even able to use tools to solve their problems.

Numerous studies have shown that these creatures can experience curiosity and boredom.

And they are also able to dream like animals, as evidenced by the ripples on their body when they sleep. True, the ability to dream may be characteristic of other creatures, such as spiders.

Similarities found between squid and human brains 2
Octopuses are the smartest cephalopods

In general, the abilities of these creatures can be listed for a long time. However, scientists are interested in what is the secret of their mental abilities and why is it that their intelligence is higher than that of most other marine animals?

The brain of squids developed in the same way as the human brain

To figure out how the brains of squid embryos develop, the researchers used fluorescent dyes to identify a specific type of stem cell called neural progenitor cells.

Once these cells were labeled, the scientists monitored their development closely using a high-resolution microscope.

They paid special attention to the retina, where approximately two-thirds of the squid’s nervous tissue is located.

As it turned out, in the process of development, stem cells formed a pseudostratified epithelium, which is a long, dense structure. This structure is a key step in the formation of large complex tissues.

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Scientists have figured out how the brain is formed in squid embryos

In doing so, the scientists found that the size, organization, and movement of the nucleus of the structure were remarkably similar to those of the same neural epithelium in vertebrates.

Simply put, the brain of a squid embryo develops in exactly the same way as the brain of vertebrate embryos, including humans. Scientists report this in the journal Current Biology.

Let us explain that earlier this feature was considered unique for vertebrates. It is believed that it is thanks to her that vertebrates have a complex brain and eyes.

Recall that the development of the embryo largely reflects the evolutionary development of the species.

In an article on the development of the brain of modern humans and Neanderthals, we said that at some point in development, gill slits even appear in the human embryo.

That is, the current study suggests that the brains of cephalopods and vertebrates evolved in the same way.

I must say that this is not the first time that scientists have discovered neurological circuits in cephalopods that we share with us.

For example, octopuses and squids, like humans, have a wide variety of microRNAs, or small molecules that control gene expression, that researchers have found inside nervous tissue.

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In cephalopods, as in humans, the cells of nerve tissues contain many microRNAs that control gene expression

Now the scientists are going to study the development of the rest of the cells as tissue grows in embryos, in order to compare this process with vertebrate embryos. It is possible that the rest of the growth plan is also similar.


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