October 25, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

How the Octopus Built Its Own Brain for Better Fishing

The octopus was glad to see fish evolve, but needed a bigger brain to catch them, so it evolved one of the most complex brains in the animal kingdom.  Is that the gist of this story in the Science blog Origins?  Greg Miller wrote in the style of a children’s storybook:

Cephalopods—octopuses, squid, and their relatives—ruled the seas in the Cambrian era, some 500 million years ago.  But their world changed in a big way with the Cambrian Explosion, a rapid diversification of life on Earth that included the origin of fish.  Suddenly, cephalopods had new opportunities—delicious fish!—and their first serious competition and potential predators.  They had to get smart in a hurry.
    So it’s no wonder then that modern cephalopods have the most complex brains of any invertebrates.  An octopus brain (lower, right) has 50 to 75 lobes and at least as many neurons (about 100 million) as a mouse brain…. And that’s not counting the smaller “brains” in each arm and the still smaller “brains” (ganglia, technically) associated with each sucker.
    All this neural circuitry gives octopuses exquisite control over their bodies, including some nifty tricks for evading predators, and it has even prompted speculation about cephalopod consciousness.
    Although the octopus brain rivals the size and complexity of many vertebrate brains, its architecture differs dramatically.  “Short of martians showing up and offering themselves up to science, cephalopods are the only example outside of vertebrates of how to build a complex, clever brain,” says neuroscientist Cliff Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois.  For that reason, Ragsdale says, these creatures have much to teach us about brain evolution.

Among the nifty tricks exhibited by octopi is instant camouflage.  As shown in the video God of Wonders (see 10/24/2009 Resource of the Week), an octopus can swim to a rock and blend in with its colors and textures in milliseconds (06/06/2007).  This involves coordination between the eye, brain, and every point on its skin surface.  Some octopi can mimic almost any other marine creature (08/30/2001, 03/24/2005, bullet 2, and 04/20/2006, bullet 1).  Robot designers study octopi to see how they keep from tying their tentacles in knots (11/27/2001) and achieve precise point-to-point control (02/09/2005).
“Origins” is a blog published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in celebration of the Darwin Bicentennial.

All we have to do is hand the microphone to some Darwinists and they will proceed to wrap the cord around their necks and hang themselves from the rafters.  If you have a better example of Darwinist stupidity in the news, send it in.
    To accept this miracle story, first you have to believe that brainless octopi exploded into existence in the Cambrian seas without ancestors (see 03/19/2009 and watch the film Darwin’s Dilemma).  Then fish exploded onto the scene without ancestors (01/30/2003), and the octopus figured out, without a complex brain, that fish are good to eat.  So it said to itself, “Wow!  Fish taste great, but I need a complex brain to be able to catch them.  Waiter!  One complex brain, well done, on the double!”  Then it thought to itself (without a brain yet) and said, “Wait a second, there; there is no Waiter.  Guess I’ll have to cook up this one myself!  Now where can I buy some neural circuits….”
    Help defeat Darwinism.  How?  Laugh out loud.  Would anyone like to publish a cartoon book of your favorite SEQOTW winners over the last 9 years?  Remember, this stuff is being published by the leading scientific journals in the world.  That makes it even more funny.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Marine Biology

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