Octopuses look pretty weird, even alien at times, but is it possible they really are from out of this world? Some researchers think so. Based on octopuses' DNA, fossil records, and even their bizarre appearance, some scientists believe the creatures might be aliens. These researchers have published a paper in a reputable journal, explaining how it makes sense that octopuses, or their ancestors, came to Earth aboard a meteor and have stuck around since.
Other scientists say the notion is ludicrous, based on nothing but wishful thinking. They've also called out the original researchers of the theory for lack of proper authority on the subject.
So are octopuses aliens? While it may seem unlikely, the researchers' theories, even without concrete evidence, do support the idea. At least no one will be surprised if octopuses begin a worldwide incursion any time soon.
In March 2018, in a paper titled Cause of Cambrian Explosion - Terrestrial or Cosmic?, 33 researchers from the United States, the UK, Australia, India, and other countries explored the eruption of life during the Cambrian period.
As part of the paper, the researchers discussed squid and octopuses, including their remarkable evolution and differences from other terrestrial life. They suggested octopuses may not have originated on Earth, but instead got some if not all of their DNA from an extraterrestrial species.
The research paper didn't just pop up on a blog. It was published in Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology, a respected peer-reviewed journal, giving the scientists' theory some weight.
The extraterrestrial octopus theory is one part of the researchers' exploration of the cause of the Cambrian Explosion, which took place about 540 million years ago during the Cambrian period. At the time of the event, most animal phyla rather suddenly popped up in the fossil record. Before then, most creatures were very basic, consisting of single-celled organisms or sometimes colonies of cells.
This boom in species types continued for millions of years, diverging into most of the types of life that are around today. Why the increase happened so suddenly has always been hotly debated by scientists.
In the paper published by the 33 researchers, they posed a theory that all life stems from viruses. Retroviruses do lead to evolutionary processes. But where did they originate? The research paper says it's possible they came from a different world.
The theory that diversification of life on our planet was "seeded" from an outside extraterrestrial source is known as the panspermia theory. According to this hypothesis, instead of everything evolving slowly, life came from meteorites and other celestial objects that bombarded our world.
Alien viruses and cells frozen and preserved on meteorites influenced single-celled life on Earth, which grew into species we recognize today. The theory even suggests humans may have evolved from this alien life.
The research paper, which speaks at length about the panspermia theory, points out there are 100 billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, and it's possible space-hardy organisms from these worlds survived on asteroids and comets.
Earth has been hit by meteorites throughout its existence, evidenced by craters found all over the world. The paper also says it's unlikely life was created spontaneously and suggests viruses from space are a more likely cause.
The research paper also suggests that, instead of viruses starting the evolution of octopuses, the creatures came to Earth already evolved. The scientists say octopus eggs may have been cryopreserved after being fertilized, then transported to Earth on a comet or asteroid. On Earth, the eggs were revived and hatched into octopuses or squid.
The researchers support this theory using fossil evidence, pointing out the very short period from the existence of single-celled organisms to full-fledged octopuses. They say a more-developed creature was introduced, and octopus eggs, or those of an ancient ancestor species, might have been that life form. Otherwise, they claim, there was not enough time for these organisms to evolve the way they did.