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Giant Pacific Octopus

Aliens on Earth: The Amazing Brains and Morphing Skin of the Cephalopods

Now, we all know that octopuses are about as close as anything on Earth to being an alien species (or at the very least, minions of Cthulhu) – but still, watching the video below showing off how the cephalopods can consciously change their skin colours and texture to suit their environment is simply mind-blowing.

And what is super fascinating that the amazing intelligence of octopuses is an almost completely separate evolutionary development to our own: the last common denominator between us and the cephalopods was 600 million years ago, before the vertebrates and invertebrates diverged, and it was just a worm with very few neurons.

And yet cephalopods display what appears to be rapid eye movements – so likely a kind of dreaming (Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!), something we previously thought only mammals and birds did. They appear to have episodic memory, something that humans need four years to brain development to do. And, they can intelligently use their skin-changing ability to hunt prey or evade predators when necessary.

Octopus, squid and cuttlefish — collectively known as cephalopods — have strange, massive, distributed brains. What do they do with all that neural power? Dive into the ocean with marine biologist Roger Hanlon, who shares astonishing footage of the camouflaging abilities of cephalopods, which can change their skin color and texture in a flash. Learn how their smart skin, and their ability to deploy it in sophisticated ways, could be evidence of an alternative form of intelligence — and how it could lead to breakthroughs in AI, fabrics, cosmetics and beyond.

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