A little while back, a good friend told me that an Octopus was “one big brain” and “basically an alien”.
It’s a hard statement to swallow at first, but when they went into a bit more detail it started to seem like they might be telling the truth. Cephalopods, the family of lifeforms of which an Octopus is a member developed complex intelligence in complete isolation from the branching evolutionary chain of events that we typically think of.
Everything from dolphins and whales, through intelligent birds like corvids (crows and magpies) to other primate species, draw the basic physiology of their brains from a common series of evolutionary events. But not the octopus.
Apparently, the mind of a cephalopod is so startingly different, it is in very real terms quite deserving of the “alien” description.
With 8 limbs that collectively have greater numbers of neurons that the central brain and are individually capable of independent decision making, we have, right under our noses, a life form that completely defies conventional understanding and metrics of intelligence.
I decided to do a little bit of research on the matter.