Most animals that live in the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic oceans either move slower than animals that live in warmer water or they have special adaptations that allow them to thrive in the colder water. Many cold water animals live in the extreme climate because they require higher amounts of oxygen and colder water contains a greater amount of dissolved oxygen than warmer water.
Octopi occur in many different regions of the oceans and seas. They thrive in waters that are quite cold to quite warm and virtually every temperature in between. This has led some scientists to investigate just how octopi seem to be able to live in such different temperatures.
The subjects of their research consisted of two species of octopi, Pareledone species from the cold Arctic waters that average around 35ºF and Octopus vulgaris from the warmer waters of Puerto Rico that average around 86ºF.
They first looked at the genes that are used to control the ion channels involved in sending messages in the brain. Temperature directly affects the speed of the ion channel messaging. The colder the temperature, the slower the ions moved along the channels and the warmer the temperature, the faster the messaging.
When they did their first DNA analysis of these control genes between the two different species of octopi, they were surprised to find that they were virtually identical. They had expected to find some difference between the two sets of genes to indicate the ability to function in the cold and warm waters.
Upon further genetic examination, what they did discover was that the genetic differences existed in the RNA, not the DNA. The RNA is the mechanism used to code for proteins which are also involved in the function of the ion channels. This in turn has led the researchers to realize that the octopi have been able to alter or re-write their RNA in order to adapt to the different water temperatures without having to permanently alter the DNA.
One has to wonder how such an efficient adaptive RNA editing system could have evolved from random processes. Instead, it seems better explainable as one of the many design features that God built into His creation.
Welsh, Jennifer, How Octopi Deal With Chilly Waters, Live Science, Jan. 5, 2012.
This presentation was given live to some 2000 people, many of them students, at South Africa’s renowned university town of Stellenbosch. Afterwards, 30 university students came forward to publicly profess faith in Christ. It’s clear that in this age of science and technology, we need to deal with the evolution issue head-on, from an unashamedly biblical standpoint. (Illustrated presentation, including English subtitles).