How Have Squids Become So Smart? They Can ‘Edit’ Their Own Genetic Makeup

Cephalopods – a family of marine animals that includes octopuses, squids and cuttlefish – are extraordinarily smart for underwater creatures. You might have seen videos of them opening jars, using various objects as tools, or even correctly predicting the future, as Paul the octopus did with game results for the 2010 World Cup.

But how did these animals develop such a high level of intelligence? A new Israeli study has found that these spineless species use a different path to complexity at the molecular level, which may have contributed to their behavioral sophistication. In other words, the researchers hypothesize that octopuses and squids can rewrite their own genetic makeup (DNA and RNA).

Conducted by Eli Eisenberg of Israel’s Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Joshua Rosenthal of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, the study has found that these marine creatures can “edit” their DNA and RNA.

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