If you’re on the lookout for a new animal companion, perhaps you should consider a squid. Before you balk at the notion of a pet squid by your side, check out the results of the first MRI-based mapping of the squid brain and its neural connections in 50 years.
While squids have generally been considered incredibly smart, a new study from Queensland University found that these intelligent cephalopods have incredibly complex brains that are similar to those of dogs.
Using high-resolution MRI and a suite of staining techniques, researchers have discovered and described previously unknown major neural pathways in squid. This clearer picture of the squid brain has led the study’s authors to conclude that modern cephalopods, including octopus and cuttlefish besides squids, have deceptively intricate and numerous neural systems that rival that of a dog and far surpass mice or rats.
This research will go a long way towards helping scientists explain how squids are able to so effortlessly and instantly camouflage themselves despite being colorblind. Other extremely intelligent abilities seen in cephalopods include counting, recognizing patterns, solving problems, and communicating with one another using signals.
These findings may further lend credence to convergent evolution theories, which postulate the idea that very distantly related animals, like dogs and squids, evolve similar traits or skills. And for the record, we don’t actually think you should get a pet squid.