5-speed listening (Octopus DNA - Level 6)

Octopuses and humans share intelligence gene



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It is common knowledge that sea creatures like dolphins have a high level of intelligence. Scientists have now discovered that octopuses also have "remarkable" intelligence. A team of Italian marine biologists have revealed that octopi have a gene that also determines the intelligence of humans. The eight-tentacled sea creature has short sequences of DNA called "jumping genes". These same genes make up 45 per cent of the human genome. The researchers said the DNA sequences are important for learning and for creating and storing memories in the brain. The scientists say the DNA may give octopuses cognitive abilities that are similar to those humans have.

The scientists say their research findings are important as they give an insight into how octopuses amend their behaviour in response to different stimuli. Scientists describe this process as "behavioural plasticity". Biologist Graziano Fiorito suggested that the research could help us understand more about intelligence in humans. He said: "The brain of the octopus is functionally analogous in many of its characteristics to that of mammals.…For this reason [the DNA] represents a very interesting candidate to study to improve our knowledge of the evolution of intelligence." He says the brain structure of octopuses may mean the creatures are more similar to mammals than invertebrates and other sea life.

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