Octopuses Given Ecstasy for Science—But Is That Ethical?
"It's a little bit like studying alien intelligence."
What happens to octopuses given the amphetamine MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy? According to scientists at Johns Hopkins University, the cephalopods react to the drug in much the same way as humans, leading them to conclude that our brains and octopus brains are wired the same for certain social behaviors.
But was it okay to give unsuspecting octopuses a mood-altering drug? And what does it teach us to study animals that are so very distantly related to humans?
About three years ago, scientists decoded the genome of the California two-spot octopus, and subsequent studies comparing that sequence to the human genome found patches of code that were identical, even though we separated from octopuses 500 million years ago. The genetic