Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses – here’s what happened
F**ken octopuses. These cheeky little buggers are sensational little creatures. About as clever as known life-forms under the sea come, they’re also about as far from humans biologically as any other creature on earth. There are, apparently, some 500 million years of evolution separating us from them. And, in fairness to the little pricks, they’ve developed some way cooler adaptations then we have. Whereas we can’t fit through things smaller than we are, they can. Whereas we can’t change our skin colour and become invisible, they can. Whereas we can’t shoot a cloud of black ink at our predators, they can! Bearing all that in mind, here’s what happened when scientists gave some octopuses MDMA…
You know, life’s strange. If your mate Keith gave a bunch of animals drugs, you’d call him a dickhead and tell him you’d call the f**ken RSPCA if he did it again, but when scientists do it, it’s all f**ken good, mate, “they’re just checking out what happens”.
Anyway, scientists found out octopuses have a gene for serotonin transporters like we do (which are the ones ecstasy and other drugs like MDMA affect) and wondered if the drug would do the same thing to octopuses that it does to us. Presumably turning them into annoying f**kwits who wear fluoro, dance uncontrollably, and want to touch everyone.
Minus the fluoro, the answer is basically, nah, yeah, sort of. I mean this bloke’s just doing mickey flips in his tank, this one’s doing the octopus ballet, and the bloke who’s had too much has turned white and is breathing erratically.
Scientists put them in a bath containing ecstasy then moved them to a chamber with three rooms: their own room, a room with a toy, and a room with a male octopus in it. Before being dosed up with f**ken drugs, the female octopuses avoided the male. Afterwards, they made their way to his room and touched him in an exploratory fashion.
“This was such an incredible paper, with a completely unexpected and almost unbelievable outcome,” reckons Judit Pungor, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon not involved in the study. “To think that an animal whose brain evolved completely independently from our own reacts behaviourally in the same way that we do to a drug is absolutely amazing.”
Before she presumably f**ked off with a glow stick and a Skrillex CD, Gül Dölen, one of the scientists responsible said, “People are beginning to recognize that these drugs are powerful tools for understanding how the brain evolved. They’re such strong activators of these behaviours. It’s not subtle.”
Final thought: Well, you don’t know until you don’t know, and now we know what happens to octopuses when you give them MDMA. Can we give them rum and see if they fight each other next?
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