Model organisms play an important role in scientific discoveries. This blog post will explore cephalopods because they are the Einsteins of mollusks. Specifically we studied the octopuses and cuttlefish, for their similar brain anatomy and integrative social behaviors. Both make excellent model organisms because they are highly intelligent, able to acclimate to new environments, and give use insight on memory, learning, and social processes.
Octopus vulgaris is the most effective species in the class cephalopods to study neurological behavior. O. vulgaris is a solitary animal and only interacts with others during mating season (Case, 1999). It lives in shallow waters around the globe from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean (Case, 1999). They consume primarily small fish and shellfish and have a lifespan from 1-2 years (Case, 1999). Interestingly enough the females die after their brood is fully hatched (Case, 1999). Octopuses will use shells and other items of interest to create their home as a so cold “Octopus Garden” (Case, 1999).Octopuses are used to study learning and memory because their MSF-VL system is similar to the anatomy of the hippocampus (Hochner,2006). It was found that the VL lobe contains greater number of synapses between the neurons (Hochner,2006). It is speculated that the more connections the more memory the brain can store and the higher learning it can achieve (Hochner,2006). Evolutionary biologists study the octopus brain to learn more about how our own brains evolved (Hochner,2006). Octopuses are extraordinary cephalopods that contribute greatly to neurological research.
The Cuttlefish species Sepia officinalis was used as the model organism for cuttlefish. This cuttlefish species was used because it is very hardy and easy to research. Cuttlefish are social animals, which make them a great model organism for studying behavior between animals and social cues used for survival. S. officinalis is a pelagic species of cuttlefish living off the coast of Europe and feeds on small crustaceans and fish. They are able to display arrays of color using chromatophores on their skin to communicate between individuals and ward off predators. Cuttlefish have been used to study the relationship between predator and prey and how they go about choosing a specific food source. They have also been used to study the relationship between color patterns and communication between organisms. Different color patterns mean different things and since cuttlefish are social animals it is useful during communication.Cuttlefish are the only invertebrate that uses imprinting to differentiate between their prey and other objects. Imprinting is not commonly seen between predator and prey, it is most commonly seen between parent and offspring. This relationship between cuttlefish and its prey shows a unique evolutionary path depicting their growing intelligence and adaptability.
- Case, Robin J.” Octopus Vulgaris.”Animal Diversity Web. University of MIchigan Museum of Zoology,1999 http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Octopus_vulgaris/#food_habits. Web.07 Sept.2016.
- Hochner Binyamin, Shomrat Tal, Fiorito Graziano.” The Octopus: A model for a Comparative Analysis of the Evolution of Learning and Memory Mechanisms”.The Biological Bulletin.210.6(2006):308-317.web.2016.