Kraken is Trackin’ — It Feels Like It’s a Matter of Taste:
Chemotactile Cephalopods in Action: ‘Release the Kraken!’
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.[ Psalm 107:23-24 ]
Although some deem it insulting to be described as being “out of touch”, being out-of-touch can be a good thing—especially if the one touching is a hungry octopus!
That is what recent research, by a team of Harvard bioscientists, shows about octopus tentacles.(1) In fact, octopus suckers actually taste what they touch!
Scientists identified a novel family of sensors in the first layer of cells inside the suction cups that have adapted to react and detect molecules that don’t dissolve well in water. The research suggests these sensors, called chemotactile receptors, use these molecules to help the animal figure out what it’s touching and whether that object is prey. … “So, when the octopus touches a rock versus a crab, now its arm knows, ‘OK, I’m touching a crab [because] I know there’s not only touch but there’s also this sort of [chemical] taste.’ [said Nicholas Bellono, the project’s senior co-author]. In addition, scientists found diversity in what the receptors responded to and the signals they then transmitted to the cell and nervous systems. “We think that this is important because it could facilitate complexity in what the octopus senses and also how it can process a range of signals using its semi-autonomous arm nervous system to produce complex behaviors,” Bellono said.(1)[ see Siliezar / ScienceDaily cite below ]
These bioscientists, despite being evolutionists, report details of how amazingly well-suited octopus tentacles are, for continuously tracking their habitat.(2),(3)
The tight organism-environment relationship does not happen by chance. Not only can engineering principles explain this relationship, there is evidence they are the only non-mystical principles capable of explaining it. Why? … Obviously, sensors play a key role in a design-based, organism-focused framework of adaptability like continuous environmental tracking [CET]—even if many researchers do not bother to look for them. The CET framework predicts that sensors are crucial for adaptable systems, and therefore exploration efforts should be made to identify them. Sensors are the triggers for the [animals’] internal systems that empower organisms to be active, problem-solving entities. Instead of being passive objects molded by the environment, living creatures actively detect changed conditions, solve challenges, and fill new [ecosystem] niches within their lifetime … And it all begins with sensors.(3)[ see Guliuzza cite below ]
But why do the Harvard researchers insist on accrediting the imagined magic of “evolution” as the inventive cause of such well-suited cephalopod traits, that fit these tentacled creatures for successful life as denizens of the deep?(1),(2)
It’s all about (as Paul said in Romans 1:28) suppressing the evidence—willfully ignoring the clearly seen truth—that God has invented these marine monsters, with integrated systems of interactive software and complicated hardware that purposefully and successfully works all over the world’s oceans.
The amazing octopus continues to astonish scientists and the public. Every facet of this invertebrate has surprised researchers, from its extremely rapid ability to change color and disappear into the background, to its amazing intelligence. … Where did these eight-armed creatures come from? Evolutionists don’t know. … But when a rare octopus fossil is found, it’s always 100% octopus as predicted by creation scientists. Octopi have always been octopi. For the first time, biologists recently sequenced the octopus genome, meaning they determined the precise order of nucleotides that comprise the DNA molecule. They discovered the octopus has an enormous genome—the complete set of genes—comparable in size to the human genome. The zoologists thought this genome was simply duplicated, or copied within itself, to achieve such a large size. But with more investigation they found that duplication was not the case. Instead they discovered a large family of genes involved with octopus brain development. Up until this time, such elaborate brain circuits were erroneously thought to be possessed almost exclusively by vertebrates. These approximately 150 brain-development circuits are not found in other well-studied lab invertebrates such as the roundworm (C. elegans) or the fruit fly. They are unique to the created octopus.(4)[ see Sherwin February AD2016 cite below ]
If you seek insights about how cephalopods—like octopi, squids, or cuttlefish—live and thrive, as God’s well-designed creatures, you need creation science reports from scientists unafraid to give our Creator-God credit, where credit is due.(5)
How much more does the construction of octopus skin with its superior, higher-resolution, full-color fabric—that even heals itself—illustrate the focus and intent of a sophisticated genius Maker?(6)[ see Thomas cite below ]
Amazing! And the ability of these cephalopods to survive at such incredible depths—with their unimaginable pressures—cannot be adequately explained apart from God’s providential bioengineering. … This seemingly impossible ability of octopi to survive 21,000 feet below the ocean’s surface should prompt us to praise the Lord for these “wonders in the deep.” However, secular-thinking evolutionists try to dodge the obvious truth. They speak in vague terms of such creatures somehow “evolving” necessary “adaptations”—as if merely using those words was an excuse to ignore evidence of God’s Creatorship! (7)[ see JJSJ cite below ]
Many zoologists consider cuttlefish to be the most intelligent invertebrate species, which is quite a problem from an evolutionary perspective. Evolutionists view intelligence evolving through social interactions and long life spans. But cuttlefish are cephalopods [like octopi and squids]. They don’t have a complex social structure and live only about a year—the lifespan of a butterfly. How did cuttlefish become so bright? In addition, these animals have a kind of visual “superpower,” in that they can “see” information in light waves we humans cannot. Sometimes electric fields, of which light is composed, can become preferentially aligned in a certain direction, a phenomenon called polarization. Cuttlefish have been designed to sense when the direction of polarized light changes. Other animals have polarized vision, but the cuttlefish’s appears to be the best: It’s in high definition.(8)[ see Sherwin January AD2016 cite below ]
Thus, the octopus, using the intelligence that God gave to octopi (as oceanic animals created on Day 5 of Creation Week—see Genesis 1:21), analytically processes the acquired information, speedily, and consequently decides what actions should be taken (by the information-gathering octopus), in order to benefit from whatever is reachable, within the watery world of the octopus.(2)
Octopuses explore the seafloor with their flexible arms using a specialized “taste by touch” system to locally sense and respond to prey-derived chemicals and movement. How the peripherally distributed octopus nervous system mediates relatively autonomous arm behavior is unknown. Here, we report [experimental evidence to show] that octopus arms use a family of cephalopod-specific chemotactile receptors (CRs) to detect poorly soluble natural products, thereby defining a form of contact-dependent, aquatic chemosensation. CRs form discrete ion channel complexes that mediate the detection of diverse stimuli and transduction of specific ionic signals. Furthermore, distinct chemo- and mechanosensory cells exhibit specific receptor expression and electrical activities to support peripheral information coding and complex chemotactile behaviors. These findings demonstrate that the peripherally distributed octopus nervous system is a key site for signal processing and highlight how molecular and anatomical features synergistically evolve [sic — error theirs] to suit an animal’s environmental context.(2)[ see Van Giesen / CELL cite below ]
Let’s rephrase this topic with less technical language, keeping in mind how these monsters of the deep are both magnificent and terrifying at the same time, depending upon how close their tentacles are to the observer.
Octopuses have captured the human imagination for centuries, inspiring sagas of sea monsters from Scandinavian kraken legends to TV’s “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and, most recently, Netflix’s less-threatening “My Octopus Teacher.” With their eight suction-cup covered tentacles, their very appearance is unique, and their ability to use those appendages to touch and taste while foraging further sets them apart. In fact, scientists have wondered for decades how those arms, or more specifically the suction cups on them, do their work, prompting a number of experiments into the biomechanics. But very few have studied what is happening on a molecular level. In a new report, Harvard researchers got a glimpse into how the nervous system in the octopus’ arms (which operate largely independently from its centralized brain) manage this feat.(1)[ see Siliezar / ScienceDaily cite below ]
Octopi are highly intelligent, being well-informed about their interactive oceanic ecosystem. As octopi surveil coral reefs for prey, or seek to avoid becoming the prey of huge cetaceans, octopi are constantly gaining and processing information, for real-time decision-making.
And now we learn that these tentacled cephalopods are touching their suckers to objects they contact, “tasting” the chemicals of those objects, and making almost instantaneous informed decisions about what to do next.
In other words, octopi make informed choices as they decide what to grab.
The team set out to uncover how the receptors are able to sense chemicals and detect signals in what they touch, like a tentacle around a snail, to help them make choices. Octopus arms are distinct and complex. About two-thirds of an octopus’s neurons are located in their arms.(1)[ see Siliezar / ScienceDaily cite below ]
The octopus tentacle sucker cells were experimentally tested, using different experiments.
The team started by identifying which cells in the suckers actually do the detecting. After isolating and cloning the touch and chemical receptors, … [the research team] exposed those cells to molecules such as extracts from octopus prey and others items to which these receptors are known to react. Some test subjects were water-soluble, like salts, sugars, amino acids; others do not dissolve well and are not typically considered of interest by aquatic animals. Surprisingly, only the poorly soluble molecules activated the receptors. Researchers then went back to the octopuses in their lab to see whether they too responded to those molecules by putting those same extracts on the floors of their tanks. They found the only odorants the octopuses’ receptors responded to were a non-dissolving class of naturally occurring chemicals known as terpenoid molecules.(1)[ see Siliezar / ScienceDaily cite below ]
So, it’s all a matter of taste, so to speak. How touching.
(1)Siliezar, Juan, & Harvard University. 2020. “Touch and taste? It’s all in the tentacles: Researchers uncover how the sensors in octopus suction cups work.” ScienceDaily (29 October 2020), posted at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201029142025.htm .
(2)Van Giesen, Lena, Peter B. Kilian, Corey A. H. Allard, & Nicholas W. Bellono. 2020. Molecular Basis of Chemotactile Sensation in Octopus. Cell. (22 October 2020) 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.09.008 .
(3) Guliuzza, Randy J. 2018. Creatures’ Adaptability Begins with Their Sensors. Acts & Facts. 47(3):17-19, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/engineered-adaptability-creatures-adaptability . For more, see Guliuzza, R. J. and P. B. Gaskill. 2018. Continuous Environmental Tracking: An Engineering Framework to Understand Adaptation and Diversification. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism. John H. Whitmore, ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 158–184. See also Guliuzza, Randy J. 2019. Engineered Adaptability: Continuous Environmental Tracking Wrap-Up. Acts & Facts. 48(8):17-19, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/continuous-environmental-tracking-wrap-up .
(4)Sherwin, Frank J. 2016. Octopus Genome as Large as Human Genome. Creation Science Update (February 22, 2016), at https://www.icr.org/article/octopus-large-human-genome .
(5)Psalm 107:24. God’s wonders in nature are “clearly seen” by humans—whether people want to admit it or not. (See also Romans 1:20-21.)
(6)Thomas, Brian. 2014. Octopus Skin Inspires High-Tech Camouflage Fabric. Creation Science Update (August 27, 2014), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/octopus-skin-inspires-high-tech-camouflage .
(7)Johnson, James J. S. 2020. Dumbo Octopus, God’s Wonder in the Deepest Deep. Creation Science Update (June 2, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/dumbo-octopus-god-wonder-in-the-deepest-deep/ . Octopi are truly amazing creatures, but not all of us like to eat them.
(8)Sherwin, Frank J. 2016. Smart and Stealthy Cuttlefish. Creation Science Update (January 11, 2016), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/smart-stealthy-cuttlefish .