[Science & Tech] Why Octopuses Might Be The Next Lab Rats

octobot

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From Nell Greenfieldboyce:

A California two-spot octopus extends a sucker-lined arm from its den. In 2015, this was the first octopus species to have its full genetic sequence published.

Move over, fruit flies, rats and zebrafish. Squid and octopuses have elaborate brains and behaviors, and scientists say studying them in the laboratory could yield important biological insights.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Michael LaBarbera)

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Tui Allen

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I to am very curious about octopuses but not so curious I want them to suffer in the name of science. I prefer they keep their mystery. For example, we could put octopuses through endless suffering just to try to discover (and emulate) their skill at rebuilding lost limbs. Why? To help humanity? Do we really think it will help us one day to grow a new human leg? There are too many humans on this planet anyway and most limbs are lost by bad eating habits leading to diabetes. Couldn't we just eat healthier and leave the poor octopuses in peace?
The scientists could go to work helping to design more efficient prosthetics. I feel that is more likely to help the limbless. I guess it's no use if you are a biologist though. What would you work on then? We need biologists and so we need work for them - just anything that doesn't cause animal suffering.
However if any of the scientists out there discover for sure, if and how cephs see colour, let me know. Just don't remove their eyes to find out, please.
 

tonmo

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Tough topic, Tui. I can't disagree and I struggle, too -- but some food for thought:
- the many scientists (and most hobbiests) I have met make ceph well-being a priority. Some scientific members of this community, like @robyn have gone to lengths to study and document injuries in cephs and the most effective ways to anesthetize; you can see her extensive contributions to related papers here.

The folks at MBL are amazing - I wish you could have joined us at the last TONMOCON! The content and materials presented at these events are always jaw-dropping beak-dropping; these folks really are interested in the amazing cephs themselves. Although we've learned a TON over the years, there is still so much more to learn. The benefits to humans are ancillary to most of the core research, but I suppose mainstream news outlets are more likely to pick up on stories that have some relevance to ourselves. But really, they are doing SO much more in their studies.

However if any of the scientists out there discover for sure, if and how cephs see colour, let me know. Just don't remove their eyes to find out, please.
+1! :lol:
 

Tui Allen

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In my lifetime I've seen quite shift in the attitudes of many scientists. I've noticed it and I've even heard scientists themselves expressing it. Decades back most would be embarrassed to admit that animals could feel emotions such as grief, love etc. Not any more, at least with some of them. I'll always remember sitting down to talk dolphins with a scientist in the Marine Research station at Leigh here in NZ. We ended up talking about dogs. He introduced me to a book written by another scientist who was convinced that some dogs had extra-sensory powers beyond anything humans were capable of. I think the book was called something like "Dogs who Know when their Owners are Coming Home"
This guy used solid scientific methods to prove his hypotheses, to prove that some dogs knew unknowable things. True or not, it is great fun for a fiction author like me to play around with. I'm all for fun. And if it increases humanity's concern for the other living beings of Planet Ocean, then it's a good role to fill.
 

tonmo

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Related: I watched this video yesterday, actually -- just happened to come across it before our discussion here:

 

Tui Allen

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This is the best Ted talk I've ever seen. This is what my whole life is about. Trying to get all of this out to people who might not ever watch this Ted talk. And this is also why I would never again eat any animal. I'm going to share it on my fb page and twitter. Thank-you for bringing it to my attention. I had not seen it before.
 

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