Are octopuses from space? Some new research suggests it’s possible; author debunks theory

Author and professor Peter Godfrey-Smith

Author of Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness and University of Sydney professor Peter Godfrey-Smith joins The Matt Bubala Show to talk about new research into the analogy that octopuses may be similar to aliens or that these animals have come from somewhere other than Earth. Roughly 33 scientists support this hypothesis but Smith rejects the idea that octopuses came from space.

These group of scientists who believe they are alien wrote a paper called Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic? where they argue that “new genes are likely new extraterrestrial imports to Earth- most plausibly as an already coherent group of functioning genes within (say) cryopreserved and matrix protected fertilized Octopus eggs.“Thus the possibility that cryopreserved Squid and/or Octopus eggs, arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago should not be discounted as that would be a parsimonious cosmic explanation for the Octopus’ sudden emergence on Earth circa 270 million years ago.”

 

Smith’s research is used as an example in this paper, but his thoughts are much different. He says behaviorally octopuses are “complex and smart” so meeting one is like meeting an alien. However, Smith believes that genetic properties are not the only thing to consider. Smith says animals and humans inherit genes from a common stalk in the way that siblings do. Over time, all life on Earth evolves, so how do we track an organism growth over time? How did humans evolve so differently from animals? Smith says that a huge component of this is communication. He says that lots of animals have episodic-like memories that help them remember particular things that have happened to them like where they found food.

The paper states that “the transformative genes leading from the consensus ancestral Nautilus to the common Cuttlefish to Squid are not easily to be found in any pre-existing life form – it is plausible then to suggest they seem to be borrowed from a far distant “future” in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large. But, Godfrey-Smith suggests if you go back far enough in time, it’s possible for humans to find common ancestors with animals.

So, even though octopuses are not from outer space, Godfrey-Smith suggests it’s hard to predict how humans or animals will develop but feels that birds, dolphins and elephants could further develop social intelligence skills like octopuses.

For more information on Godfrey-Smith’s work, check out his website.