Yesterday I blogged in part one of this story about a recent article by scientists, advancing the hypothesis that cephalopods might have been seeded to Earth, rather than having arising on this planet as part of normal evolutionary processes. I left off hinting at speculations, but now I want to indulge those high octane speculative instincts more completely. The cephalopod, with all its large brain mass, its strange camouflage ability, its camera-like eyes, a very strange "distributed brain" system, its apparently high intelligence (cephalopods, and in particular, octopuses, have been shown to actually learn from each other by mere observation), not to mention a mitochondrial DNA consistency that is far above average, and the fact that they arise very suddenly, without much by way of precursors, in the evolutionary record, led these scientists to advance the panspermia model for their origins:
In short, cephalopods originated off this planet, and somehow arrived here.
Ok, so what? Where's the high octane speculation in all this?
Let's start here: Berossus, the Babylonian priest "hired" by Alexander the Great to translate his country's mythology and history into Greek, tells perhaps the tallest "fish story" about "the one that got away" of them all. This story concerned a "fish-man" named Oannes, who came from the sea, with the head and tail of a fish, but inside, the head and feet of a man. From this strange creature, the ancient Mesopotamians learned wisdom, science, and culture. I've always thought this myth was yet another example of the phenomenon of paranomasia, of the "multi-layered" deep structure levels of meaning that lie deceptively hidden behind an apparently ridiculous mythological surface structure. The fish is viewed like a seed, open the seed, and one finds man, a "Cliff notes" version, if you will, of the standard evolutionary notion of life beginning in the seas, and issuing ultimately in man, for notably, it is the human part, and not the fish part, that presumably taught the ancient Mesopotamians their "wisdom." Just as equally, the ocean itself is viewed as the vast abyss of space. Thus, the mythological surface could entertain the notion that this life came from "out there" somewhere. This reading is at least consistent with other Mesoptamian texts that refer to "Kingship" having been brought down to Earth from the heavens.
Let's crawl out to the end of the twig, and couple this to the "cometary bombardment-panspermia" model that the seed material of the cephalopod came from "out there". If so, then this would mean that the planet of origin would have had to have been water-bearing. And here I think it gets very interesting, for this is precisely what the late Dr. Tom van Flandern proposed for the now-missing - and exploded - planet in our solar system. Interestingly enough, the Babylonians, according to some interpretations, called this planet "Tiamat", a name of primordial waters. In van Flandern's model, this explosion sent giant shock waves of water, and hence, presumably, of any life in that water, traveling throughout the solar system. Mars was concussed with it in a sudden planetary wide flood, part of the shock wave reached Earth, and may explain the Deluge mythologies on this planet. And the strange and bizarrely intelligent cephalopods may thus, as these scientists, and a peculiar reading of some ancient texts, may be the result. On this reading, the Oannes myth might be saying something else yet again: behind this strange ocean dwelling "fish" there lies a high intelligence.
There are, however, serious problems with this speculation, and they must be mentioned. In van Flandern's model, this explosion took place in relatively recent geological and solar system history, either at 65,000,000 years ago, or 3,200,000 years ago (for reasons I outlined in my book The Cosmic War). On the other hand, the arrival of cephalopods by the panspermia model being proposed by the scientists is roughly 270,000,000 million years ago. Here, as elsewhere, the chronologies do not match, unless, of course, one wants to propose that the date of "kingship" being lowered from heaven, ca 240,000 years ago, is a harmonic expression of a much larger magnitude: 240,000,000 years ago, which puts things in the same approximate time frame. That too, does not resolve the issue of Van Flandern's dates. But ignore the dates, for a moment, and suppose that all these hypotheses and speculations are components of a larger picture, and one would get the idea that perhaps the cephalopod may have originated on that now missing planet. If our chronologies are correct, then there is no unitary scenario behind these various hypotheses; if the unitary scenario is correct, then our chronologies have to be reexamined and adjusted.
Time, and further research and reflection will tell.
But either way, maybe the strangely fascinating creature that is the octopus may end up holding a key to these questions. Maybe Oannes was the octopus.
See you on the flip side...