“Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are famous for engaging in complex behavior, from unlocking an aquarium tank and escaping to instantaneous skin camouflage to hide from predators. A new study suggests their evolutionary path to neural sophistication includes a novel mechanism: Prolific RNA editing at the expense of evolution in their genomic DNA.”
In layman’s terms, there is now evidence that some species of smart cephalopods are choosing RNA and directing their own genetic evolution to be a little smarter.
“Mutation is usually thought of as the currency of natural selection, and these animals are suppressing that to maintain recoding flexibility at the RNA level.”
“…high levels of RNA editing is not generally a molluscan thing; it’s an invention of the coleoid cephalopods,” Rosenthal says. In mammals, very few RNA editing sites are conserved; they are not thought to be under natural selection. “There is something fundamentally different going on in these cephalopods where many of the editing events are highly conserved and show clear signs of selection,” Rosenthal says.
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by Diana Kenny