Researchers Make A Bold Claim About Octopuses Possibly Being From Space

Researchers Make A Bold Claim About Octopuses Possibly Being From Space

Even in an ocean filled with mysterious creatures, the octopus stands out. And while they’re not the prettiest species in the sea they are truly special creatures. It’s all about what they can do rather than what they look like. because of their special skills, octopuses may have origins that are quite literally out of this world.

Cool Creatures

Yep, octopuses are amazing. They have huge brains, jelloid forms that can fit through tiny openings, and complex nervous systems. Did we mention they’re also camouflage masters? They’re highly skilled at hiding in plain sight from predators. They practically have it all! And according to one group of researchers, they’re too incredible to have just evolved in the sea.

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Laying it Out

These experts claimed to have evidence that octopuses are as awesome as they are because they’re products of outer space. Yes, really! And in the paper “Cause of Cambrian Explosion — Terrestrial or Cosmic?” they backed up their bizarre theory with some surprising evidence.

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“It is plausible,” the researchers said, “to suggest [octopuses] seem to be borrowed from a far distant ‘future’ in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large. Such an extraterrestrial origin as an explanation of emergence, of course, runs counter to the prevailing dominant paradigm.” In other words? Some things about the octopus just don’t add up.

NASA, ESA and B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

Doubting the Octopus

To these researchers, something about the octopus evolutionary timeline seemed off. They hadn’t taken enough time to transform from a single-celled organism into an incredibly complex mollusk. The experts knew this because of fossilized evidence that tracks the animal’s path to its modern form.

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It Was Aliens

So, could octopuses be evolutionary mysteries because they’re not completely from this planet? And did they have a little “help” evolving from something extra-terrestrial? In the article, the researchers laid out their case.


The Source

So, could octopuses be evolutionary mysteries because they’re not completely from this planet? The team focused on the Cambrian explosion to explain. More than 540 million years ago, there was an evolutionary period that kick-started the evolution of the majority of modern animal groups. Here is where researchers believe the answer to the octopus mystery lies.

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Early Life

Before the explosion, most of the life on Earth was simple. Colonies of cells and single-celled organisms swam around in the plentiful bodies of water on the planet. This was long before anything was complex enough to venture from the sea to the land. Then, the researchers proposed, an asteroid struck.

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Viral Invasion

The researchers claimed that this asteroid carried a foreign substance or some kind of virus. But the idea that an outside force provided material for life to evolve on Earth isn’t new. It’s a part of the panspermia theory, a notion that evolution was a much faster process after a meteor crashed into the planet and deposited a virus.

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Seeding the Earth

It’s not as strange as it sounds. You see, retroviruses do seem to have influenced evolutionary processes. And the researchers have said that some viruses had the capability to provide enough material to permanently change life on Earth.

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Celestial Objects

Plenty of meteorites, comets, and other celestial objects have hit the Earth in the past. Physical evidence across the globe proves this. And the team have suggested that one of these objects could have been carrying the ingredients for life. But what does this all mean for octopuses?

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Sounds Legit

For some reason, the writers thought that fertilized octopus eggs may have been cryogenically frozen and become attached to a space rock. Luckily, the conditions on Earth were perfect for these aliens — and they thrived here. Otherwise, octopuses evolved at an inexplicably unnatural rate/

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Crash Into Me

The researchers also mentioned that there are 100 billion planets that share similarities with our own. And that’s just in the Milky Way alone! It’s not as wild as it may seem to think that an organism from another world could survive a journey through space before crashing to Earth, especially one so sophisticated.

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Magazine with Notoriety

This hypothesis was featured in the scientific journal Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology, and it earned an enormous amount of outside attention. Mind you, scientists still aren’t sure about the Cambrian explosion origin theory — but in many scientific circles, it remains the soundest theory yet.

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Skeptics speak out

Some critics were quick to jump on the story. Ken Stedman, who is a virologist and professor of biology at Portland State University, said “There’s no question early biology is fascinating — but I think this, if anything, is counterproductive.” “Many of the claims in this paper are beyond speculative and not even really looking at the literature.” Clearly, Stedman isn’t on board.


Requiring Similarities

Stedman also explained that if a retrovirus had impacted octopus evolution, it would have originated from another planet with similar squid-like animals. After all, a retrovirus couldn’t effectively change an animal without sharing similarities with its host. And he called out one specific claim in the alien-octopus theory.


Not Specific Enough

Stedman explained, “[The retrovirus] certainly [was] not specific enough for something like a squid — unless you have massive amounts of squids on some planet incredibly close to us that is spitting off all of these meteors. But I think that kind of assumption is highly unlikely.”


We’re with Ken

And other scientists have agreed with Stedman. Karin Mölling, a virologist at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Germany, is similarly doubtful about the theory. The study is “very useful” but the findings “cannot be taken seriously,” Mölling wrote, continuing, “There is no evidence for it at all.”


No Proof

So, although the team managed to get their paper published in a scientific journal, they have little concrete evidence to back up their theory. We can’t fault the team’s imagination, but it looks as though octopuses real origins are still a bit of a mystery. Mind you, plenty of animal origin stories have been sorted out in heated debates. Researchers first thought the platypus was a hoax!

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Local Wildlife

When Colonel David Collins, a member of the team surveying Australia, first saw a platypus, he froze. In his notes, he wrote that he’d happened upon an “amphibious animal, of the mole species,” and included a hand-drawn image.

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A Present

The governor of the new colony, Captain John Hunter, requested that this animal be captured so as to send its pelt back to England for study, and in 1798 England received their unusual package. But scientists back home didn’t believe it was real.

UK Natural History Museum

Poking and Prodding

At first, everyone who saw the skin wrote it off as a hoax. Some thought it was a joke from Asian taxidermists; others thought a duck bill had been sewn onto beaver skin. They even cut into the dried pelt with scissors to look for stitches.

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Common Trickery

In light of the culture at the time, their skepticism is understandable. Hoax animals were common back then; taxidermies were often designed from various parts of other animals and toured around as circus sideshow attractions.

Enrique Gomez De Molina


For instance, PT Barnum — of Barnum and Bailey fame — had what he called a Fiji Mermaid on display. According to publicity and hot tips he leaked to the press, it was a mummified mermaid caught in the South Pacific, but it was really made of fish, wood, and monkey parts.


And Albert Koch, who discovered a giant cache of fossilized American mastodon bones, reconstructed one twice the size of normal, dubbing it the never-before-discovered Missouri Leviathan and shipping it on tours around the world.

UK Natural History Museum

Real Deal

However, more evidence came to light, and the public began to realize that the unusual duck-billed creature was real. During an expedition to Australia between 1801 and 1803, scientists were able to illustrate the creatures in their natural habitat and corroborate the taxidermy from back home.

Ferdinand Lucas Bauer


The first person — besides the expedition members — to consider the creature a real animal was George Shaw. He was the natural history collections keeper at the British Museum, now the Natural History Museum, and he called the mammal Platypus anatinus, or “flat-footed duck.”

Wikimedia Commons


However, unbeknownst to Shaw, there was already a species of beetle with the genus name Platypus. Four years later, another scientist named Johann Friedrich Blumenbach published an updated dossier on the creature and called it Ornithorhynchus paradoxus — or “paradoxical bird-snout.”

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Further Confusion

Later on, that taxonomical classification would further morph into the present-day Ornithorhynchus anatinus, which means something like “duck-like bird-snout,” but Shaw’s original name had stuck, and everybody just called the thing a darn platypus.

New York Times

What Was It?

Despite all the changes to its name, giving the platypus this moniker turned out to be the easy part. Scientists were baffled about what the animal actually was, given that it had characteristics of a mammal, bird, and reptile.


For reference, mammals give birth to live offspring and feed them milk. They also have warm blood, like birds — but birds lay eggs. Reptiles, on the third hand, lay eggs, but are cold-blooded.

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The trouble with classifying platypuses at first was the fact that in Europe, where all the classifying scientists lived, there were no live platypuses. Scientists only had partial carcasses and pelts to study.

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New Category

However, when these biologists were able to get their hands on a live platypus, they decided it couldn’t neatly fit into any of the preexisting orders of animals, so they created a new one entirely.


Unique Classification

They called it the Monotremata order, a subcategory of the mammal class. Members of Monotremata, called monotremes, include the platypus and the echidna, and they are egg-laying mammals that produce milk for their babies once they hatch.

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Biological Link

Because of the strange way that the platypus’s reproductive characteristics overlap with those of other animal classes, scientists wonder if the animal might be a clue to an evolutionary bridge between mammals and reptiles.

Peter Clark


After all, those three classes of animals that the platypus was thought to be part of — mammals, birds, and reptiles — all share a common ancestor, called the amniote, which existed many eons ago in the development chain.


Branching Off

Though they aren’t closely related to reptiles and birds, monotremes are thought to predate humans, and likely separated from placental mammals early on, maintaining their amniote characteristics.


Still, it’s hard to believe that, long before beloved American cartoon characters Phineas and Ferb built the perfect 104-day summer vacation alongside their pet and spy-genius companion, Perry the Platypus, scientists had one heck of a time figuring out just what a platypus actually was.

Disney XD

Continued Study

Whatever the case may be, we’re glad the platypus didn’t turn out to be a hoax those two hundred years ago. Still, it wouldn’t be a total shocker to look back and see these animals are just beavers with bills sewed on.

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