According to a variety of news outlets the Octopus arrived on Earth millions of year ago in the form of frozen eggs aboard comets.
Reported on the Express and The Australian, a reference to a paper in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, suggests that Octopus DNA came from outer space.
“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.”
The Cambrian explosion began 270 million years ago, and the octopus began appearing rapidly 250 million years ago. “One plausible explanation, in our view, is that the 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.”
Another possible conclusion is that this is a highly sensationalized headline taken out of context. Study authors note this paper is more of an exploration of panspermia, rather that of a specific focus on the octopus.
Karin Moelling of the Max Planck Institute Berlin and Institute of Medical Microbiology, Zurich, said the article was worth thinking about, “yet the main statement about viruses, microbes and even animals coming to us from space, cannot be taken seriously,” she said.
It’s important to note that the study in question does not make the octopus the key focus of the investigation. The word Octopus is only mentioned 23 times in the lengthy passage and the authors themselves note that very reality.
“Further, if some readers are hoping to read a disquisition based on Population Genetics-type analyses, as one reviewer has put it, ” … analyses of evolutionary rates, examples of appearance of new genes with no homology to old ones, etc” they will mostly be disappointed; although some genetic features from recent data in the Octopus and other Cephalopods provide challenging examples to conventional evolutionary thinking. But that is not the main thrust of this review.”
The authors in question are rather using proof points to further a view of panspermia, the theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment.
Did cephalapod life originate from outer space? It is possible, but this paper will not answer that exact question. You can find the abstract right here.
Get our Tips and Tricks to your Inbox