Hey gang! First, let's dispense with the reactionary grammarians in the audience: octopuses and octopi are both acceptable plural forms of octopus. Octopuses actually has an etymological basis; octopi is just for people who like to sound smart and be critical of everyone else. Good? Good.
Now, forgive me for burying the lede, but have you heard the news out of academia this week? A team of researchers published a paper in the academic journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology have determined that it is plausible (key word here) that octopuses evolved from cryogenically frozen eggs (or some other form of nascent bio-material) that traveled to Earth via comet/meteor some 270 million years ago via a process called panspermia.
It helps explain why cephalopods seemingly evolved much more rapidly during the "Cambrian explosion" that followed the mass-extinction event that took out the dinosaurs — early octopuses may have traveled to Earth via the very cause of the dinosaurs' destruction, and the conditions of Earth were such that it provided a prime "incubator" in which this frozen genetic material could revive and then thrive.
Photo by Vlad Tchompalov
Whaaa?!? Now, before you start making plans to welcome our new amorphous overlords, keep in mind this is merely conjecture (fancy word for "guess") based on circumstantial evidence by some — no doubt very hard-working — scientists that are probably (definitely) angling for grant money.
But it got us thinking about octopuses and all the cool stuff we DO know about them, as well as some stuff we suppose about them:
• Highest brain-to-body ratio makes it the most intelligent non-vertebrate on the planet, and is more intelligent than many vertebrates.
• Has been shown to be capable of observational learning.
• Have been spotted using old coconut shells to build shelters, a form of tool use.
• Possess instant camouflaging capabilities (like Harry Potter's cloak, but built-in).
• Built-in jet propulsion for fast escape from danger.
• Though some species of octopus are naturally colorblind, some scientists believe that certain species in that group can switch to color vision at will to determine how to best camouflage themselves. The trade-off is lower visual acuity when the octopus's eyes are in color vision "mode".
So to sum it up, octopuses are highly intelligent, tool-using, self-camouflaging super creatures with jet propulsion, quite possibly from outer space.
Want to impress the next octopus you meet? Here are some jokes he might like:
Q. Why are octopuses such good bodyguards?
A. Because they're well armed.
Q. What is 8 x 3.14?
Q. Why did the two octopuses look so much alike?
A. Because they're i-tentacle twins.
If you'd like to show your allegiance to the cosmos and/or these amazing cephalopods, feast your eyes on these octopus and space shirts:
Until next week, peace, love, and space-tacos,