Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

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Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#1  Postby the_5th_ape » May 23, 2016 4:32 am

Octopuses are aliens — or, at least, so vastly different in their genetic makeup that they might as well be considered out of this world. Scientists recently sequenced the first genome in the Octopus Genome Project, a huge undertaking to map out the entire DNA structure of the complex cephalopod. What they found was simply incredible.

Researchers at the University of Chicago took on this project and chose the California two-spot octopus for their subject. Then, they learned that a group at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan was working to break down the genome as well. So the two combined forces, and together, unlocked many of the mysteries surrounding the octopus. The results were recently published in the science journal, Nature.

Octopuses have 33,000 genes, roughly 10,000 more than a human. This alone sets it apart from any other invertebrate in the world. They are also uncannily clever, with the ability to open jars, solve puzzles, and even use tools. It’s no wonder that some might think this creature is from another planet. In uncovering the sequence, scientists found that octopuses have a similar set of genes to those found in humans, that make up a neural network in their brains, which accounts for their quick ability to adapt and learn. We also share a large brain, closed circulatory system, and eyes with an iris, retina, and lens. All of these independently developed in another species vastly different from our own mammal origins.


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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#2  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 8:35 am

What creatures did they evolve from?
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#3  Postby Fenrir » May 23, 2016 9:23 am

jamest wrote:What creatures did they evolve from?

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If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of the thing. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings; but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#4  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 9:56 am

jamest wrote:What creatures did they evolve from?



Kingdom:.....Animalia
Phylum: .....Mollusca
Class:.........Cephalopoda
Superorder:.Octopodiformes
Order: ......Octopoda
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#5  Postby Animavore » May 23, 2016 9:58 am

jamest wrote:What creatures did they evolve from?


Octopuses are closely related to snails and slugs.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#6  Postby Evolving » May 23, 2016 10:01 am

And pasta.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#7  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 10:03 am

And sashimi.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#8  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 11:09 am

Have those other creatures got lots of genes? I'm wondering where the excess genes came from.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#9  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 11:20 am

Having more genes than humans =/= excess genes.

I'm afraid I can't lay my hands on a figure for the number of genes found in molluscs right now. Although you may find it interesting to learn that a very small crustacean called the water flea has 31,000 genes and a protozoan has been found with 60,000+ genes.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#10  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 11:45 am

Sendraks wrote:Having more genes than humans =/= excess genes.

I'm afraid I can't lay my hands on a figure for the number of genes found in molluscs right now. Although you may find it interesting to learn that a very small crustacean called the water flea has 31,000 genes and a protozoan has been found with 60,000+ genes.

I am indeed very surprised given the relative simplicity of such things.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#11  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 11:51 am

jamest wrote:I am indeed very surprised given the relative simplicity of such things.


It is not a given that lots of genes = more complex lifeform. At least, that is what research shows us.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#12  Postby Calilasseia » May 23, 2016 12:05 pm

Indeed, even the simple measure of genome size is no indicator of "complexity", a matter that PZ Myers covered at some length elsewhere. For example, here are some sample genome sizes, arising from the sequencing data (numbers below are the numbers of base pairs in the genome in question):

Carsonella ruddi (Bacterium) : 159,662
Escherichia coli (Bacterium) : 4,600,000
Prytelenchus coffeae (Nematode worm) : 20,000,000
Aspergillus nidulans (Fungus) : 30,000,000
Drosophila melanogaster (Insect) : 130,000,000
Arabidopsis thaliana (Angiosperm plant) : 157,000,000
Physcomitrella patens (Bryophhyte moss) : 480,000,000
Tetraodon nigroviridis (Teleost Fish) : 385,000,000
Homo sapiens (Primate mammal) : 3,500,000,000
Protopterus aethiopicus (Sarcopterygian fish): 130,000,000,000
Fritillaria assyrica (Angiosperm plant) : 130,000,000,000
Paris japonica (Angiosperm plant) : 150,000,000,000
Polychaos dubium (Single celled amoeba) : 670,000,000,000
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#13  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 12:19 pm

Sendraks wrote:
jamest wrote:I am indeed very surprised given the relative simplicity of such things.


It is not a given that lots of genes = more complex lifeform. At least, that is what research shows us.

The question begs what all those genes are for in such relatively simple things. Do we know?
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#14  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 12:22 pm

jamest wrote:The question begs what all those genes are for in such relatively simple things. Do we know?


I've no idea what work is being done to work out what all those genes do but, as I'm sure Cali or someone more knowledgeable will inform you, there is a huge body of work on tracing different gene functions from homo sapiens to other organisms. Basically seeing what the origins of our genetic makeup are.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#15  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 12:24 pm

Hmm. Very curious.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#16  Postby Sendraks » May 23, 2016 12:28 pm

You realise that decoding a genome is a huge amount of work right? And in terms of scientific endeavour, this is all still relatively new information.

How about you just cut straight to the point about what the problem here is for you.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#17  Postby Fenrir » May 23, 2016 12:50 pm

Most of those genes are members of standard vertebrate gene families.

One thing octopii have are lots more transposons than many groups, which may explain why some genes which tend to be clustered in most vertebrates are not in octopods. Ie Hox. May also explain some of the higher numbers of genes in some gene families.

Also, hox genes in many organisms are arranged on the chromosome in the order of their expression along the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo and are ultimately related to body segments. Are octopussy embryos segmented? If they aren't does this allow a relaxation of stringengy in position and expression sequence of transcription factors? Be interesting to find out (i suspect work may already have been done on this coz it's so obvious).



Regardless, Hox genes are Hox genes and are common to all eucaryotes. Having a more diverse complement of genes in a gene family does not suggest they had an independent origin. Quite the opposite.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#18  Postby Calilasseia » May 23, 2016 1:03 pm

For that matter the Pax gene family is found right across the Eumetazoa. Pax6 is responsible for governing eye formation in taxa as diverse as Drosophila, the characin fish Astyanax mexicanus, and humans.
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#19  Postby Fenrir » May 23, 2016 1:08 pm

Calilasseia wrote:For that matter the Pax gene family is found right across the Eumetazoa. Pax6 is responsible for governing eye formation in taxa as diverse as Drosophila, the characin fish Astyanax mexicanus, and humans...


...and octopodes.

:)
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Re: Scientists declare that octopuses are basically aliens

#20  Postby jamest » May 23, 2016 1:29 pm

Sendraks wrote:You realise that decoding a genome is a huge amount of work right? And in terms of scientific endeavour, this is all still relatively new information.

How about you just cut straight to the point about what the problem here is for you.

I've already mentioned it. I was under the impression that each gene or combination thereof corresponded to particular biological structures and/or functions within an organism. Is that correct? If so, then I wonder why/how small and relatively simple organisms could have many more genes than larger and much more complex organisms. That's all I'm curious about here.
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