Octopus brains may have become complex the same way human brains did

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The relatively high intelligence of octopuses may be due in part to high numbers of microRNAs that could let them generate more types of neurons



Life



17 March 2022

MC8MNB This view shows some of the suckers on this eight armed cephalopod. Day octopus, Octopus cyanea, Hawaii.

A day octopus photographed near Hawaii

David Fleetham/Alamy

A study of the activity of RNA, a type of genetic material, in the bodies of octopuses suggests that the brains of cephalopods evolved greater complexity in the same way as vertebrate brains did – by using a lot more regulatory RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs) to control gene activity.

“We show that the major RNA innovation of soft-bodied cephalopods is a massive expansion of the miRNA gene repertoire,” states a study yet to be formally peer reviewed, led by Nikolaus Rajewsky at the Max Delbrück …

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