Cephalopod Intelligence May be Thanks to Evolutionary Trade-Off

Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are famous for engaging in complex behavior, from unlocking an aquarium tank and escaping to instantaneous skin camouflage to hide from predators.

Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are famous for engaging in complex behavior, from unlocking an aquarium tank and escaping to instantaneous skin camouflage to hide from predators. A new study suggests their evolutionary path to neural sophistication includes a novel mechanism: Prolific RNA editing at the expense of evolution in their genomic DNA.

The study, led by Joshua J.C. Rosenthal of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole and Eli Eisenberg and Noa Liscovitch-Brauer of Tel Aviv University, is published this week in Cell.

The research builds on the scientists’ prior discovery that squid display an extraordinarily high rate of editing in coding regions of their RNA — particularly in nervous system cells — which has the effect of diversifying the proteins that the cells can produce. (More than 60 percent of RNA transcripts in the squid brain are recoded by editing, while in humans or fruit flies, only a fraction of 1 percent of their RNAs have a recoding event.)

Originally posted to The Daily Catch : www.theterramarproject.org/thedailycatch

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