Jun 11, 2016 by


A new study has led researchers to conclude that Octopuses (NOT Octopi) have Alien DNA. Their genome shows a never-before-seen level of complexity with a staggering 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human being.



The oceans of our planet hide countless mysteries that could perhaps help answer numerous mysteries of life itself. During the last couple of decades, marine biologists have made small but steady progress towards a deeper understanding of nature and life.

A group of researchers decided to do some science and chose the cephalopods in order to try and break down their DNA code, hoping to understand them better.

The octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are integrated into the coleoid sub-class of the molluscs. They have an evolutionary history that goes back over 500 million years, a period long before plants moved onto land. These creatures inhabit nearly every single ocean at almost any depth.

They are mainly characterized by a vast range of incredible morphological wrinkles: camera-like eyes, really flexible bodies, and ‘sophisticated’ chameleonic response. All of this is ruled by the larger nervous system found among invertebrates, which makes these beings the rulers of the oceans.

They possess highly developed brains and are considered as the most intelligent invertebrate demonstrating elaborate problem-solving behaviours. And as if it wasn’t freaky enough for octopuses to open up jam jars, scientists have just concluded that these aquatic creatures are even more mysterious.

Thanks to the first-ever full genome sequence, researchers have found that octopuses (NOT Octopi) are in fact entirely different from any other animals on our planet. Their genome shows a never-before-seen level of complexity with a staggering 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human being.

US researcher Dr. Clifton Ragsdale, from the University of Chicago, said: The octopus appears to be utterly different from all other animals, even other molluscs, with its eight prehensile arms, its large brain, and its clever problem-solving abilities.

“The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”

One of the mains reasons why researchers decided to investigate the molecular basis of cephalopod brain, was its ability to adapt instantly its neural network properties which result in a great impact in memory and learning capacity. These specific capabilities offer an explanation within the genome that incorporates biological mechanisms that allow tissues to rapidly change proteins in order to alter their function.

According to researchers from the University of Chicago, the octopus genome is enriched in transposons, commonly referred to as “jumping genes,” which can rearrange themselves on the genome. Even though their role in octopuses is unclear, researchers found elevated transposon expression in neural tissues. Transposons are known to have the ability to affect the regulation of gene expression and are believed to play major roles in shaping genome structure. (Source)

“With a few notable exceptions, the octopus basically has a typical invertebrate genome that’s just been completely rearranged, like it’s been put into a blender and mixed,” said Caroline Albertin, co-lead author and graduate student in Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. “This leads to genes being placed in new genomic environments with different regulatory elements, and was an entirely unexpected finding.” (Source)

Octopuses have an alien genetic baggage. The scientific report mainly concluded that Octopuses share ‘Alien’ genes.This has been a ground shaking claim in the scientific community which caused an upheaval among marine biologists who seemed to be shocked and intrigued at the same time.

It turns out that apparently, we’ve had under our nose a link to humanity’s mysteries, and many of life’s greatest enigmas can be solved if we only decide to pay more attention to our ocean and everything inside of it.

The findings are published in the Journal Nature.



  1. What an awful headline. This has nothing to do with octopi being alien or from another world. And your closing statement, how cliche.

  2. You spelled octopus wrong… and I suspect you did not actually read the paper.

  3. shib

    Octopodes, but whatev.

  4. Ames

    I would just like to point out that Octopuses, Octopi, and Octopodes are all correct plural forms of Octopus.

    • Joana Dougherty McGee

      As a letters person whose knowledge of the sciences is precious little, would somebody, if inclined, write WHY this article has been panned as not very accurate, or good? I’d be happy to read a link with such information if it were approachable to a layperson. Much appreciated. ~jmdm

      • Joana Dougherty McGee

        Whoops, not only did I post this in the incorrect place (meant it to be general) but I just discovered the link that describes exactly what I have asked for, above. Cheers.

  5. Octopus is a Greek word so the plural is “octopodes”. Webster’s Dictionary says “octopuses”, “octopi”, and “octopodes” are all acceptable.

  6. Tracy Rowland, B.Sc.

    They didn’t conclude that the Octopus contains ‘alien’ DNA at all. Please re-read the article and if you don’t understand it, then don’t make your own conclusions. They concluded that they had Octopus-specific genes… unique amongst other animals already studied. Not alien. I’m so tired of these attention grabbing headlines connected to a real scientific article and the authors making bold leaps to conclusions not supported by the data or in this case – grossly misrepresenting the conclusions the authors did make. This is very irresponsible and certainly not worthy of any person of science.

  7. Ragsdale apparently has used the word ‘alien’ to draw attention to himself and his paper. The word ‘alien’ does not even appear in the paper. Shameless courting of the pop-science media.

    • Kleon

      2 times.
      1)“The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an ALIEN.”
      2)Octopuses have an ALIEN genetic baggage. The scientific report mainly concluded that Octopuses share ‘Alien’ genes.This has been a ground shaking claim in the scientific community which caused an upheaval among marine biologists who seemed to be shocked and intrigued at the same time.

      • Emma

        You realize this isn’t the actual paper, right? This is bad journalism. The link to the paper is at the bottom where there is NO mention of aliens.

      • Joseph A. Borges

        The word alien shows up in the article on this page, we all know that. Go look for it in the linked paper that this article is supposed to be about. It isn’t there. This story is fabricated click bait, and we all fell for it.

      • Josh Q

        Alien – adjective
        1. belonging to a foreign country. “an alien culture”
        2. unfamiliar and disturbing or distasteful.

        He didn’t call it an alien, he said it was alien.

      • The PAPER, sir, NOT the article.

      • Yeah but you know they are from Earth, right?

        • Crystal

          I’m fairly certain he means the paper published in Nature, not this article.

        • jake

          I think in the sense “alien”, they are not talking about the common sense of the word, being extraterrestrial (from outer space) but more to do with the fact that the genome is alien to us as being unknown, (the true definition of alien) and it is because it is unknown to us and as stated, never before seen, that’s what makes it so interesting.

        • I wanna See Arnold pop up out of the Ocean Floor and look the Octopus in eyes and Proclaim “You are you one, uglee, Motha-F!%^er.” Then and only then, will I believe its a real Alien.

      • Hopefully people realize the word “alien” in this context is being used as a synonym for “strange” or “unique” right????

    • sohan modak

      I agree with John Ross. Genomics cannot be conducted with a mindset of pop-science !

    • this article is click bait

    • Christina

      I think Casey Danson is who used the word alien to draw attention to her article. In the Nature publication it doesn’t say anything about “alien” DNA. It just says octopuses evolved in a different manner than similar species. Casey Danon misquotes a zoologist who said something about octopuses being alien, clearly not literally speaking, and twists that to say that they have alien DNA.

    • dc

      Paragraph 8: “The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien.”

  8. Will

    I think this article misrepresents the authors of this paper and their research. They don’t say anything about alien DNA!

  9. Jeff

    “Alien” is not used on the referenced page. This article is misleading.

  10. chath pierSath

    Anything new now is alien. We are all aliens, according to alien theorists. Why the surprise?

  11. OK, I’m not a marine biologist. Would someone be kind enough to explain to me what the repeated use of Octopuses (NOT Octopi) means? I’m not sure what’s being said.

    • Many outsole feel that since octopus ends in ‘s and sound Latin-ish, it is part of the Latin reformation which would make the plural octopi. Octopus is actually a Greek word which would have a plural of octopodes
      , if we happen to use that. However, borrowed words in English typical use English rules which means the standard rules of using “es” for plurals means the proper plural of octopus is octopuses.

    • Paul King

      Octopus is a Greek word, so the plural is octopusses (or octopods) not octopi (as it would be if the word were Latin).

    • The author is pointing out that the plural form of the word octopus is Octopuses (NOT Octopi). I guess because some people think octopi is the plural form of octopus. And he’s trying to make it clear that it isn’t.

    • John Lach

      Octopuses means many kinds/species of Octopus. Octopi means many of the same kind/species of Octopus.

      • Joseph

        That’s just wrong. Did you make that up? The Greek/Latin explanation is correct, although Octopi is accepted through common use. I.e. say the wrong thing long enough and it becomes right, somehow.

    • Robotech_Master

      in re octopi, apparently he’s trying to drive home the point that “octopi” is actually not the proper plural. (I don’t have any opinion on that; I haven’t looked it up, but I imagine Google will have some things to say.)

    • Shawn Sagady

      The proper plural of Octopus

    • ninjatherapist

      I assume the author means that “octopi” is not the correct way to pluralise the word, etymologically speaking, despite many people doing so based on the assumption that “octopus” is Latin in origin.

    • Una

      In the English language, the plural form of words ending in -us, especially those derived from Latin, replaces -us with -i. However there are exceptions such as the word octopus – plural is not octopi as one would conclude but rather octopuses.

    • toddjal

      I was wondering the same thing. They’re very adamant about something they don’t clarify. Are they correcting a common grammar error, or suggesting that it is a different species called octopuses?

    • Brian

      “Octopi” is a false construction. The correct English plural is Octopuses, as used here, a fact which you can readily determine in any reputable dictionary. “Octopi” is a made up word by someone imaging that a Latin plural was applicable, when it was not, since Octopus comes from the Greek. If you wanted a Greek plural, it would be “Octopodes'” not “Octopi”.

    • Lou J Berger

      It’s a etymological point, in that the plural of octopus, frequently stated as ‘octopi’ is, in fact, either octopuses or the more precise “octopodes.”

      The author is being smart and sharing said smartness with the reader.

    • Octopuses works. Entertaining explanation here:

    • Aine Thompson

      It’s referencing the incorrect plural form. From the Oxford standard dictionary “The standard plural in English of octopus is octopuses. However, the word octopus comes from Greek and the Greek plural form octopodes is still occasionally used. The plural form octopi, formed according to rules for some Latin plurals, is incorrect.”

    • Paul

      It’s grammar, not science. Octopus is used as an English word and naturally takes a regular English plural. The “i” plural is Latin and Octopus, despite what people often think, is not even derived from Latin – it’s actually Greek (where the plural would be Octopodi, but that’s pretentious to use). See here for a more entertaining discussion at Merriam-Webster:

    • The author wants to highlight the correct plural construction. “Octopi” is invalid, although commonly used.

  12. Camille

    Did you read the paper before you commented? Difficulty with retention of content here for you guys…

  13. I’ll save this to show my students an excellent example of bad science reporting.

    • Julien

      Please do ! the more I read ‘scientific news’ on the net, the more it appears teaching people to differentiate science from pseudoscience is deeply needed. The title was a hint, but this ‘article’ is a spectacularly bad offender.

    • The word alien has various meanings. The meaning which you all seem to have read is ‘relating to beings from another world’. In my dictionary that is meaning number 4. This is a clever headline to entice people to read a factual article about a fascinating animal.

  14. Mondy

    Millions of years ago huge alien Octupuses traveled all the way from Andromeda with their huge Octupusian spaceships directly to earth. They found it boring on earth so they developed a special system which let them stay under the water, and never found any interest going back home. This makes great sense !

  15. Peter Lawrence

    Well it caught my eye and I know very little about octopuses, but I understand the previous comments . . .

  16. Robert Latham

    This is the most distorted and misrepresented piece of rubbish I have sen in a long time.

  17. Octopuses are alien, but octopi are not?

  18. You are all over focused on the capitalized word, Alien. Alien just means different, and has been overused by countless credible sources (as in “illegal alien”). Perhaps turn your knee jerk attention to the point of the article which is this amazing discovery that maybe we humans aren’t the smartest creatures in the world, (as proven by these irrelevant and distracting responses to what is a fascinating and enlightening discovery.) It’s not bad science reporting; just a lack of critical thinking skills so common to the vocal American public. Please, teachers, think a little more deeply than picking on the obvious to demonstrate your cleverness. Let your students get beyond pop buzz words to think about how something like this can explode your expectations of the world as you know it and open new channels in your brain to imagine what is to come. (And I don’t mean Flying Octopuses.)

    • Best comment so far.

    • A Higgins

      The title of the article is, “Scientists conclude octupus DNA is not from this world”.

      That’s not a matter of poor critical thinking on the part of commenters, it is an example of bad science-reporting and click bait.

      • A Higgins

        Also, they misspelled octopus in the title.

        And some of the paragraphs are so grammatically poor as to be almost incomprehensible. I suspect parts of this “article” were generated by a bot, which is common with click farm sites.

  19. Jay Cee

    I take these things with a grain of salt, especially when the author of the article repeatedly uses “octopuses (NOT Octopi)” and then writes, “One of the mains reasons…”.

    Glass houses are a bitch.

  20. Paul Sampsell

    It’s a nice picture.

  21. Mrs. Sinton

    Oh, you commenters are s droll, humorless lot. Author was being cheeky while reporting. Science can use more of this kind of reporting to expand the lure of science to those outside of stern academia. Lighten up.

  22. hopelessmisanthrope

    This is pure bullshit and you should be ashamed of yourself. The study did not say that octopi (yes, that is also the correct pluralization), have “alien DNA”.

    “noun, plural octopuses, octopi

  23. Thomas Middlemiss

    Darlings, read “Their genome shows a never-before-seen level of complexity with a staggering 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human being.”
    Just because a species has more genes than a human, does not make it extraterrestrial.
    To be extraterrestrial would assume that it has genetic compositions not seen in any other terrestrial life forms.
    This is clickbait at its best.

  24. Eskil J.

    That’s the most click-baity title and misleading article I’ve read this year… The author only likened the octopus DNA to “alien DNA”. It still evolved on Earth, albeit in a very different eco system.

  25. Alien or not, humans will eat them. Probably all of them.

  26. Andy B

    As in unusual, not necessarily extraterrestrial.

  27. alien nation

    Is there alienthing else aside from this crawling monsters in the deep sea alien waters? Land: humans, waters: Alien. Isn’t it obvious?

  28. Anthony Bear

    It’s ‘octopodes’ when spoken/written most properly. Octopus is a Greek based word. Sure, there’s the commonality of when a word is brought into English, just throwing ‘s’ or ‘es’ at the end to make it plural is okay, but why be lazy?. This way is much more fun!

  29. David

    I think you need somewhat fewer design folks and a few (actually, a lot) more actual scientists (organismal, genetic, evolutionary, etc. for starters) on your board and editorial team. How you go from an article talking about evolutionary divergences 270 million years ago to pontifications on aliens (as discussed in other comments) is bad journalism on top of bad science. And as a loyal University of Chicago alumnus, I feel doubly disgraced, though, from what I see here, I’d not be surprised if I found erroneous and out of context quotes on the part of this site.

  30. David

    The Ragsdale quote, in a UChicago press release uses alien in a very different context, as in “novel.” undocumented people are also called alien but aren’t ET.

    BTW, this article is from last August? Is there no new news?

  31. Janna Silverstein

    I, for one, welcome our alien cephalopod overlords!

  32. Chris McCarty

    Agreed. While the study itself is intriguing, this article completely misrepresents the findings. And why? To what end? Of course they’re alien to humans, like a majority of life on this planet. Then again, octopuses? Who knew?

  33. Abby

    I read the source article when it came out last summer. It is indeed a very exciting finding that will lead to a lot of followup. However: it does not in any way even vaguely imply that octopus DNA is “not from this world.” The author of this article took a comment in an editorial piece “The late British zoologist Martin Wells said the octopus is an alien. In this sense, then, our paper describes the first sequenced genome from an alien” and ran with it as hard as they could. Translated, what this quote says is “An old, dead biologist made a comment about the octopus being an alien. So in a sort of *nudge nudge* way it’s kind of like we sequenced the genome of an alien.”

    I don’t mean to take away from the impressiveness and strangeness of the octopus genome. It really is a stunningly unique genome that I can’t wait to hear more about. (Biologist reading this: it’s hox genes are scattered all over its genome!) This is just really irresponsible reporting.

  34. Stanislaw Wawrzyczek

    Outrageous misrepresentation of the original report. Globalpossibilities, take this off, because it ruins your reputation.

  35. Madeline

    yeah super smart animals. So don’t eat them!

  36. If Octopus DNA used a different genetic code, that would be evidence of it being alien. Same Genetic code. Same 20 Amino Acids. Evidence suggests the Octopus is a native of Earth, i.e. non-alien.

  37. peteracorby

    Note to self: {} Yet another BS website never to visit again.

  38. Come on, guys and gals. If you have even a basic understanding of general science, this is funny. Besides, “pop science” can be helpful if it draws people who otherwise live in more or less blissful ignorance. And who knows, some 12 year-old might read this and get that urge, the one that pulls you in and leads to a very fulfilling life. The reality is so much better that the pop.

  39. Sorry, they’re delicious.

    • I have seen a lot of replies to this article about eating Octopus. Like, the idea of eating an alien is gross, but not the idea of eating an animal that is super-intelligent and fascinating. What is that all about?

    • Angel

      Human flesh is probably delicious too, if you had eaten it in an expensive restaurant…

  40. this is not science period

  41. Everyone seems to have seized on alien meaning extra-terrestrial, well if you look you will find it has more than one meaning so is in fact a perfectly correct word to use in this situation 😉

  42. Though to be fair the title is misleading.

  43. Michael Baron

    Octopodes. Just because someone did something wrong for a hundred years does not make it literally correct.

  44. jack

    This is a very informative article, but i would rather read it from the sources than from this author, who clearly has never proofread anything they have written. This was supposed to be a scientific article, but instead is just a piece of clickbait full of errors, both literary and factual. I strongly urge that “Global Possibilities” reconsider this authors employment.

  45. John Doe

    In the article title: Octopus. Not octupus.

  46. brian

    it looks a lot like a jaguar shark

  47. I too think we should take care of our business here on Earth FIRST before we reach for the stars.

  48. Don

    You can at least make an argument that the proper plural is “octopodes.”

  49. I’m a biological scientist that has worked in the area of marine biology. I think the author just used a little poetic license to draw attention to what is an interesting story about the octopus genome that many might not have bothered reading had it not had a twist in it. Writing popular science is about grabbing attention in a world where people are overloaded with data. This story has worked.

  50. Alien, the terminology is used to say their genome is strange, or different.

  51. John Korchok

    Bogus science. Here’s the Nature web page about this article:…/octopus-genome-holds-clues-to…
    “It’s the first sequenced genome from something like an alien,” jokes neurobiologist Clifton Ragsdale of the University of Chicago in Illinois, who co-led the genetic analysis of the California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides).
    He’s not saying the DNA is alien, he’s saying it’s _like_ an alien, the difference between fact and simile. I’ll bet he regrets that joke now.

  52. Giovanni Margiotta

    It is widly believed and proved that the building blocks of DNA (protiens) travelled to Earth on rocks from space, so why would it be any surprise if they came from more that two different worlds. The word “Alien” simply means of unknown origin, so all life is alien by that statement!

  53. BC Sterrett

    They spelled “octopus” wrong in the title. That’s all I can focus on.

  54. Jarma13

    Forgive me but… dont octopus being here make their dna OF this world?
    and check it…. octopus plural!

  55. Global Possibilities has just joined my list of disreputable sources of internet information. shameful.

  56. I hate being told not to pluralize my Latin nouns properly… especially by someone who writes Octupus instead of Octopus and “One of the mains reasons why …”! So if I wanna say Octopi I will say Octopi!

  57. And thus they will be deported.

  58. waringcapital

    “One of the mains reasons why researchers decided to investigate”… This is where I stopped reading.


    Never believe anything you read and only half of what you see. This journalism proves that.

  60. How can any of this be true when we all know we are the only sentient beings in the universe, the earth is flat, it’s only 5,000 years old, and all those dinosaur bones are fake.

  61. Bvs

    Loved the article, no wonder octopoon is so delicious.
    What makes you science nerds such douches (douchi / douchopedes / douchbags). The word alien seems to get y’all in a tizzy no matter where it is. Yes, I used the paper

  62. ian

    DNA are not from this world too, genius.

  63. Walter Lee

    the correct plural of “octopus:ss neither “octopuses: nor “octopi” but “octpodes”

  64. Michael Markham

    What the mind cannot comprehend it concludes must have an alien source. This thinking is the source of all the religions of the world.

  65. Peter

    Of course the plural of octopus in not octopi. It is not a second declension Latin word. It’s a Greek word. The plural is octopodes.

  66. Sully Tyler

    Several thoughts.
    1. Why do they have copper based blood?
    2. If they are the same as they were 270 million years ago, why have they never evolved past that? Are they a perfect end species? An apex predator?
    3. Do they have a social structure? Any evidence of communication?

  67. Lori Watt

    The corn genome has some 32,000 genes crammed into just 10 chromosomes. In comparison, humans have 19,000 to 20,000 genes…
    Is corn alien too?

  68. UYM

    Really strange news…

  69. Is this “news” (fake, or otherwise) of is this a sci-fi thriller in the making?


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