What was Richard Feynman's views on parenting
Caltech physicist Richard Feynman once said: "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics." It is possible that the same could be said about cephalopods, the group of invertebrates that includes squid, cuttlefish, and octopus. The last ancestor we shared with one of those animated Jell-O salads was likely some kind of worm, so our DNA is basically nothing like theirs - not that they care. They haven't really done evolution the way we did, but they still managed to independently evolve into incredibly clever stealth artists with big, complex brains, closed circulatory systems, and camera-style eyes, just like ours ... well, not just like our .
The thing about cephalopods is that they've gone 500 million years of independent evolution to figure out how to do things their own way. Any test you can create to measure something in a human - such as intelligence - will not work on an octopus. Because of this, neurobiologists studying cephalopods have a similar job to electricians figuring out the power grid on an alien planet.
"We have known for 50 years that the brain of cephalopods is by far the most complex of invertebrates and that their dazzlingly complex behavior in structuring their bodies is controlled by motor centers in the brain," says Dr. Sabrina Pankey, an evolutionary biologist from the Institute of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences at the University of New Hampshire. "The neural architecture, however, was much more puzzling."
Finding the neural basis of complex behaviors is inherently difficult in any animal. However, hard to figure out how an octopus can completely change its body structure in milliseconds - or display a pattern to the octopus on the left and a pattern to the other on the right - is a sticky wicket, as you can imagine. One hypothesis was that body coloration is somatotopically organized in the cephalopod brain - that a specific part of the central nervous system is solely responsible for controlling the structure in a specific patch of skin. After all, this is how it works in our mammalian cortex.
But a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows again that cephalopods are not like us, and indeed very much Not as we. The research team suggests that his study object, the oval octopus ( Sepioteuthis Lektioniana ), also known as the Bigfin Reef Squid, achieves its skin structure through mosaic organization - that these squids actually use multiple motor centers within the optical lobe of their brain to produce a single skin pattern like stripes, ribbons, or spots. The fact that multiple parts of the brain work together at the same time to create a single display allows for greater complexity in the resulting pattern. It would be like using multiple keyboards to type the same document at the same time. We vertebrates just don't do it that way.
Dr. Chuan-Chin Chiao, director of the Institute of Systems Neuroscience at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, and his co-author and student Tsung-Han Liu believe that several different areas of the optical flap can be used to display individual skin patterns in one specific body part - a dark coat, striped tentacles, dotted fins - the squid can flash around 14 different patterns in the blink of an eye. We tend to view redundancy as inefficient. Because cephalopods have overlapping parts of their brain to create certain patterns on certain parts of the body, when part of their brain is busy they can still transfer information to their bodies with impressive rapidity.
Just think, if you had a number of different parts of your brain that are responsible for remembering a single word, your abilities would be Get from Words amazing .
"We find this research particularly interesting because it shows how squid can efficiently modulate the expression of individual body pattern components and thus dynamically change the appearance of their body color," Chiao said in an email. "This allows the cuttlefish to quickly change different body patterns in visual communication. Thus, it resembles a visual language of the alphabet."
The researchers believe that the color patterns displayed by the squid are not only used as a communication signal for the same species, but also serve to hide or warn of other potential predators or prey. This research also underscores the fact that while we vertebrate animals believe we have the best systems to do anything, cephalopods might be into anything, at least when it comes to efficient communication.
"The way in which these body patterns can be generated thanks to various combinations of activated brain centers reminds me of the formation of words in agglutinative languages such as German," says Pankey. "There is a linguistic mechanism to create compound words which are then given a new meaning."
Perhaps at some point we will know enough about the cephalopod brain to find out whether octopuses learn "word patterns" through observation, or whether the information is hardwired and whether different populations "speak" different patterns. Currently, researchers are focused on learning how visual information from the eyes regulates body patterns in the squid as they communicate with one another in their natural environment.
"It's going to be a lot more difficult than anything we've shown before," said Chiao.
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