OCTOPUSES are bizarre. This isn’t just as a result of they appear odd. It’s not as a result of they’re disturbingly good. It’s as a result of they’ve an odd energy.
The capacity to edit their very own our bodies.
This has biologists scratching their heads.
Evolution doesn’t work that approach. It’s imagined to be spurred by genetic mutations — a change in DNA — that proves to be useful to the host.
So how might a creature evolve in such a approach as to permit them to rebuild themselves?
Now a brand new prepare of thought has emerged.
At least, not right here.
Instead — it’s a sophisticated organic capacity that got here from outer area.
THE KRAKEN WAKES
In April final 12 months, researchers discovered octopuses — and a few of their cuttlefish and squid cousins — frequently edit their RNA.
This units them aside from the remainder of the animal world.
RNA, like DNA, data genetic code. But the place DNA is a double-stranded molecule, RNA consists of only one strand. Its function inside our physique is to transmit genetic info to set off the manufacturing of proteins.
But some scientists really feel RNA could have been the unique DNA, performing because the everlasting storehouse of genetic code amongst Earth’s earliest organisms.
When it involves cephalopods just like the frequent squid, researchers have discovered that as much as 60 per cent of the RNA in its nervous system had been edited after it was programmed by DNA. These modifications tailored its mind to shifting temperatures in it ocean habitat.
Last 12 months, it was discovered two species of octopus and one among cuttlefish does the identical factor — routinely.
“This shows that high levels of RNA editing … (is) an invention of the coleoid cephalopods,” US Marine Biological Laboratory researcher Joshua Rosenthal said.
How this capacity is triggered, or managed, isn’t but identified.
“It could be something as simple as temperature changes or as complicated as experience, a form of memory,” Rosenthal says.
But the power to reshape physiologies on the fly has come at a value.
Coleoids aren’t evolving a lot.
This might be as a result of the drive isn’t there: They’ve discovered enhancing RNA is option to adapt to — and survive — change. So their DNA doesn’t want to alter.
“The conclusion here is that in order to maintain this flexibility to edit RNA, the coleoids have had to give up the ability to evolve in the surrounding regions — a lot,” Rosenthal wrote.
The origin of life on Earth is among the hardest nuts for science to crack. We know a lot of the chemistry concerned. But not the circumstances that brings all of it collectively right into a residing being.
There’s nonetheless a niche in our understanding massive sufficient for gods and different extraordinary concepts to suit inside.
Such as panspermia.
It’s the concept that life right here started on the market — with scatterings of natural molecules carrying their pre-programmed codes for all times throughout the gulf of time and area.
Evidence is missing.
But the thought is being examined.
Now a peer-reviewed article revealed within the science journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology is stirring the origins-of-life pot.
The latest Rosetta mission to Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko confirmed natural molecules that kind the premise of sugars and amino acids have been dusted amongst its mounds and valleys of frozen ice.
It’s not life.
But these supplies are the constructing blocks of DNA.
The new report, Cause of Cambrian Explosion — Terrestrial or Cosmic?, argues that our existence isn’t primarily based on these interplanetary constructing blocks alone.
Instead, it builds up the concept that our biochemistry has been contaminated by influences from past our personal planet.
The authors argue cloud of natural materials doubtless rained down upon the Earth about 500 million years in the past. And that modified all the pieces.
The Cambrian Explosion is actually mysterious. It was a time period the place life on Earth diversified dramatically, and quickly.
It’s an occasion which happened shortly after the emergence of retroviruses in the environment.
It was particularly dramatic for a kind of mollusc known as a cephalopod. Tentacles reached out from their shells and wove their approach into huge number of creatures which finally grew to become the octopus, cuttlefish and squid we all know right this moment.
“We believe this coincidence is not fortuitous but is consistent with a key prediction … whereby major extinction-diversification evolutionary boundaries coincide with virus-bearing cometary-bolide bombardment events,” the research’s summary reads.
This thought is that space-borne retroviruses finally discovered their option to the Earth’s floor earlier than attaching themselves to residing organisms. Once there, they reprogrammed the creatures’ evolution.
“A second focus is the remarkable evolution of intelligent complexity (Cephalopods) culminating in the emergence of the Octopus,” the research reads.
“A third focus concerns the microorganism fossil evidence contained within meteorites as well as the detection in the upper atmosphere of apparent incoming life-bearing particles from space.”
The paper argues the space-based switch of life was doubtless on a bigger scale than simply retroviruses. Whole units of frozen genetic materials have been solid about on the stellar winds earlier than splashing down in our oceans.
Here, they thawed.
“Thus the possibility that cryopreserved squid and/or octopus eggs, arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago should not be discounted,” the research reads.
Therefore, octopuses are aliens.
It’s attention-grabbing conjecture. It’s an thought that matches the circumstances. But concrete proof is but to be produced. The thought is but to be examined.
But it’s tantalising.
“Life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind.”