Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Genetic Oddity May Give Octopuses and Squids Their Smarts - BIODIVERSITY

Coleoid cephalopods, a group encompassing octopuses, squid and cuttlefish, are the most intelligent invertebrates: Octopuses can open jars, squid communicate with their own Morse code and cuttlefish start learning to identify prey when they’re just embryos.

In fact, coleoids are the only “animal lineage that has really achieved behavioral sophistication” other than vertebrates, said Joshua Rosenthal, a senior scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. This sophistication could be related to a quirk in how their genes work, according to new research from Dr. Rosenthal and Eli Eisenberg, a biophysicist at Tel Aviv University.

In the journal Cell on Thursday, the scientists reported that octopuses, squid and cuttlefish make extensive use of RNA editing, a genetic process thought to have little functional significance in most other animals, to diversify proteins in their nervous system. And natural selection seems to have favored RNA editing in coleoids, even though it potentially slows the DNA-based evolution that typically helps organisms acquire beneficial adaptations over time.


Source & further reading:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/science/octopus-squid-intelligence-rna-editing.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&smtyp=cur&_r=0

Gif: Octopus uses coconut shell as armor

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