Under The (Exta) Sea

By Geisha Bar

You may have looked at an octopus and thought to yourself, “this has got to be the most ALIEN thing on our planet.” And you’d be right – the octopus is an incredibly fascinating, highly intelligent creature that is about as far from human as you can get on Earth. Our lineages are separated by more than 500 million years of evolution, and our nervous systems are super different. However, it turns out we have more in common with our betentacled mates than previously thought!

It turns out that octopuses love a kick-on and a gurn just as much as any of us! Scientists at the Marine Biology Lab in Massachussetts have given octopuses MDMA to see what effect it would have (https://doi.org/10.1101/301192), and to see how different we are genetically, and the results are pretty damn cool.

Octopuses are usually somewhat antisocial, but under the influence of MDMA, they showed interest in each other, hugging, touching and socialising more. Awwwww. (Sound familiar?) So, MDMA works molecularly to make octopuses feel all loved up just like we do at any given festival.

The research found that humans and octopuses have similar serotonin receptors (the thing that makes us super happy), which suggests that neurotransmitter systems are ancient and common to various species, which is really fucking cool! Finding out that another species that has evolved their brain in a totally different way and environment to us can have the same reaction to a drug that humans do is mindblowing. This planet is so damn cool!

Love, Akika xoxoxoxoxo