Ancestor Hominin

 

Fossilized footprints of Neanderthal were recently found in the sandstone of an ancient beach in northern France, adults with children going one way, adults only going back the other way.  Starting forty thousand years ago Neanderthal gradually disappeared, the last of them living in caves in the north and eastern sides of the rock of Gilbraltar.

We are not sure why.

The Neanderthal made fire, made and used tools, and lived in nomadic groups. They were mostly ambush hunters, striking from woodland cover, with hand-held spears. They did not have  projectile weapons.  They may have had burials, and likely decorated themselves.  They may have had rudimentary art.

Their disappearance coincided with the arrival of modern humans, who came into Europe from Africa and the Middle East and hunted much the same food as the Neanderthal – elk, horses, reindeer, aurochs, bison, and the woolly mammoth. The Neanderthal were bigger and stronger than modern humans. We have no evidence of war.

“We should see evidence of the direct killing of neanderthals by modern humans – and we don’t.. 

We have always assumed that we modern humans were smarter.  We maintained larger groups.  The white sclera of our eyes empowered our social and verbal communication.  We had projectile weapons, and could better hunt in the open – courser predators . . . We could hunt in packs.  We hunted for furs as well as for food, used bone needles for sewing, and made better clothes.  Our shelters, and burial ceremonies were more elaborate.  We clearly made art.  And we harnessed the skills that reside in the genes of other species, for our own advantage.  We domesticated wolves, and our dogs were immensely helpful in hunting, able to run down prey, hold them at bay for the kill, and help defend against scavenger predators.

Perhaps we simply out hunted Neanderthal.

But maybe not.

Something else happened just as modern humans arrived – the Campanian Ignibrite Eruption, the largest volcano eruption in Europe of the past 200,000 years.  This happened in the Gulf of Pozzuoli, just west of the modern city of Naples, Italy, and just east of Mount Vesuvius.

Before the time of Pangea – the great universal continent formed when all tectonic land masses came together –  there was a great sea that encircled the globe, the Tethys Sea.  This sea became the Mediterranean Sea as the African tectonic Plate migrated north and collided with the Eurasian Plate to complete the super continent.   This collision created the the cliffs of the northern mediterranean shore, the volcanoes of western Italy. . . and the Campanian eruption.

The eruption sent volcanic ash 7000 km, in all directions,  covering all of Italy and  eastern Europe.  A volcanic winter followed, with cold temperatures over all of Europe, causing loss of game and the woodlands, changing the game of survival.

Modern Humans were able to get to Southeast Asia and Australia 50-70,000 years ago.  Cline Findlayson suggests that maybe Neanderthal were able to keep them out of Europe . . .until the Campanian Eruption.

More than the modern human mind, it may have been the modern human body, the more gracile, more energy efficient body from Africa, better at walking and running over longer distances, that favored survival for modern humans in the cold and open steppe terrain that Europe became.

“I maintain that humans are the most invasive species that has ever lived.”  The Invaders,  Pat Shipman.

Neanderthal do live on, their genes living on in the genes of modern humans.  They are our. . . ancestors.

Philosophers have tried to understand the nature of human nature for thousands of years.  Hominin ancestors like Neanderthal can tell us.

Neanderthal lasted for 400,000 years. . . . Will we?

Natural Born

They were originally Siberian nomads. Some 8 thousand years ago, they  crossed the Bering Strait into North America. The Nemeruh – “the people” – came to live a primitive hunting and gathering life in eastern Wyoming .  They had no pottery, no farming, no priests.  They were Stone Age hunters.

In the early 1600’s, Spaniards from Mexico brought Arabian-bred desert horses to the Americas. . . Mustangs.  Some of them got away.  Within a few decades there were . . .millions. . . wild, roaming the plains and canyons of western North America, all the way into Canada.

In those times, on the Great Plains, buffalo herds as large as 4 million strong grazed the rolling fields of grass, in groups as large as 50 miles long and 25 miles wide.

The Nemeruh became highly skilled horsemen.  Horses greatly empowered hunting, but also war, territorial war between the native peoples.  The Nemeruh relentlessly fought their way south, displacing the Apache’s, the Ute’s and others, and conquered the greatest buffalo country of all, the Llano Estanto – the lands of northern Texas and Oklahoma.

They became known as the Comanches, so named by the Ute’s as “those who are always against us”.

“A Comanche brave who captured a live Ute would torture him to death without question.  A Comanche captured by a Ute would expect to receive exactly the same treatment.

The Nemeruh, and all the Plains peoples, lived ”immersed in the elemental world” of the “endless, trackless, and mostly waterless expanse of undulating grass” – the “oceanic” plains that were filled with natural fires, sudden storms, blizzards, venomous snakes, and ravenous predator beasts.

Their life was “ceaseless toil, hunger, constant war, and early death”, but also PURE MAGIC, with “spirits everywhere, in rocks, trees, and in animals” and nights filled with dancing and singing.  The raw liver of a freshly killed buffalo was a delicacy, as was the curdled milk form the stomach of a still nursing bison calf.  They never ate the buffalo heart.  They lived intensely alive.

”virtually all the Indian tribes waged war against their neighbors and practiced deeply sickening torture. Prisoners who weren’t tomahawked on the spot could expect to be disemboweled and tied to a tree with their own intestines, roasted to death over a slow fire, or simply hacked to pieces and fed alive to the dogs.”

Once, they captured and adopted Daniel Boone’s grand daughter. but after a raid against them by settlers, they tied her high in a tree, alive, and shot her full of  arrows.

The Comanches . . . ‘stopped cold’  . . . the northern advance of the Spaniards and the western advance of the Americans. . .  for 150 years.  They were the very last holdout of native people against the tide of settlers in North America.  Only the deliberate slaughter of the buffalo could bring them to submission.

The strength of their attachment to each other, and the demonstration they gave of the same, even to the dividing of the last morsel with each other upon the point of starvation, might put any professed Christians to blush!  But they were just the reverse of all this to all the world outside.”

Denouement

November 22, 1963

In the morning, LBJ tried to talk JFK into having Ralph Yarborough, his political adversary, in the Presidential car on the motorcade, rather than John Connolly,  his political ally.  JFK said no.  Jackie heard their heated exchange.

Later in the morning, Richard Nixon boarded a plane, in Dallas, to fly home.  As he embarked, he told reporters of rumors that JFK would remove LBJ from the upcoming re-election ticket.

In Washington, D.C., Dan Reynolds, who sold a life insurance policy to LBJ, began testifying to Congress about LBJ’s demands for kickback payments – purchasing advertisements on LBJ’s radio station and a stereo set for Lady Bird.

Carlos Marcello, New Orleans mafia boss, was in district court in New Orleans, fighting deportation by Attorney General RFK for falsifying his passport.

At 12:35 PM, shots rang out in Dealey Plaza.

As Mr. Reynolds was about to present incriminating documents, it was announced that JFK had been killed.  “I guess you won’t need these.  Giving testimony involving the Vice President is one thing, but when it involves the President, that is something else.”

While the Judge in the Marcello trial was instructing the jury, he was interrupted by news of JFK’s death.  The verdict later that day was NOT GUILTY.

In Cuba, a French journalist, Jean Daniels, sat with Fidel Castro in a seaside villa at Varadero, Cuba.  Some weeks prior,  JFK learned of Daniel’s planned visit to see Castro, and asked Daniels to give Castro a message: “If you want peace, you must break with Moscow”.  Daniels was to made to wait to see Castro . . .for 3 weeks.  Then, on 11/21/63, they finally met.  They talked until 4AM.  Castro invited him to lunch the next day.  During lunch, Castro received a call, and was told of JFK’s murder.  “This is very bad news”.  His fear was that he would be blamed.

In Paris, Rolando Cubela, a Cuban physician and leader in Fidel’s government, and a neighbor of Castro in Varadero, met with a CIA representative.  He had secretly met with the CIA, before, stating that he wanted to defect.  In Brazil, in September 1963, he had met with Desmond Fitzgerald of the CIA, who asked him to assassinate Castro.  Rubella had conditions.  He wanted a high powered rifle, and he wanted personal orders, directly from RFK.  Many in the CIA suspected ‘a set up’. Fitzgerald gave RFK’s go-ahead anyway.

As Cubela was given a poison pen to use on Castro, news of JFK’s assassination arrived.  He didn’t take the pen.

Two years later, in Cuba, Cubela was found guilty of espionage and was given a death sentence.  Castro commuted the sentence, and sent him books while he was in prison.  Cubela was released in 1979 and moved to Spain, where lives to this day.

Desmond Fitzgerald died of a heart attack, playing tennis, in 1967, as doubts of the Warren Report were in the news.

In Los Angeles, Aldous Huxley died of laryngeal cancer.

In Oxford, England, twelve minutes later, C. S. Lewis died of kidney failure. He spoke his last words:  “We have no right to happiness

 

Bottom Up

Sir John Cowperthwaite was financial secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 – 1971.

His administration did not collect any economic data during his tenure.”  Jairaj Devadiga

“if I let them compute theses statistics, they’ll want to use them for planning.”

During Cowperthwaite’s administration, Hong Kong grew “ from being only one fourth as rich as the United Kingdom in 1961, to being 40% richer by 1996′.

What should poor countries do?  His advice:  “Abolish their office of natural statistics”.

When management is driven by statistics. it leads to what is called. . . Surrogation.  Metrics get misinterpreted as goals.

Measurement, contrary to all conventional wisdom, leads to mismanagement.  

Case in point:  Soviet Russia

Fifty years ago, 180,000 whales disappeared from the oceans”.  Charles Homans.

This was due to Soviet fishing. “In one season alone, from 1950 to 1951, Soviet ships killed nearly 13,000 hump back whales.”

But Russia didn’t need whale fishing product.

The Soviet whalers . . . were motivated by an obligation to satisfy obscure line items in the five year plans that drove the Soviet economy.  In the grand calculus of the country’s planned economy – the dictates of the State Planning Committee of the Council of Ministeries – whaling was considered a satellite of the fishing industry

Gross fish tonnage was the metric goal.  Harvesting whales was the easiest way to tonnage.

No matter what, the plan must be met.”

It is common to think of society as a unitary whole with unitary motivations, something which requires central control, top-down, to achieve focused goals, driven by the statistics of outcomes.  “Mussolini made the trains run on time.”

Thomas Friedman:

“. . .when [one party autocracy] is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as china is today, it can also have great advantages.  That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”   

And yet societies in history that have flourished, and have been more adaptive and thus more stable,  have been more biologic bottom-up, ecological networks of distributed motivations, interests, and initiatives, with freedom of action and opportunity to learn from experience.

Margaret Thatcher:

”. . .  they are casting their problems on society, and who is society? There is NO SUCH THING as Society.   There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except thru people and people look to themselves first.”

Milton Friedman:

”Voluntary exchange is a way to get cooperation among individuals without coercion.  The reliance on voluntary exchange, which means on a free market mechanism, is thus central to the liberal creed.”

”Both sides to an economic transaction can benefit from it, if the transaction is voluntary and informed”.

  Matthew Ridley:

Innovative societies are free societies where people are free to express their wishes, and where creative minds are free to experiment to find ways to supply those requests . . .”

 

 

 

 

 

General Lee

General Robert E. Lee married Mary Custis, grand step-daughter of George Washington.  Thru this marriage he acquired slaves.  He freed them by 1862, following the instructions of his father-in-law’s will.

Lee did not find slavery completely without justification.  [it was] “a greater evil to the white man than to the black race. . . blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially and physically.  The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, and I hope will prepare and lead them to better things.”

Loyal to Virginia, he sided with the Confederates.  “How can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”

He fought for the confederate cause. . . relentlessly. . . and. . . with relish . . .to the very end.

At Mule Shoe,  when all was nearly hopeless, he tried to break out of Grant’s encirclement, to try to hold out in the hills of Tennessee or Georgia.  In these last days of the war, he sacrificed many thousands of his men.  Few of those men  owned slaves.

“. . he rode Traveller hastily toward the fighting.  He encountered terrified soldiers, streaking back in chaotic flight [from counterattacking union forces], “Hold on!” Lee shouted, seeking to stem the rout,  “Your comrades need your services,” The terrified men refused to heed his admonition, “Shame on you men, shame on you!”  Ron Chernow.

He would not negotiate release of captured Negro Union soldiers who had been southern slaves.

Lee was West Point and studied Napoleon. He was successful on defense, on his home turf – at Bull Run, at Fredericksburg, at Chancellorsville – but not so effective on offense, on unfamiliar ground, outside of Virginia, such as at Antietam or Gettysburg.

Strong on tactics, not so much on strategy.

While Lee attacked the front porch, Grant would attack the kitchen and bedroom“.  William T. Sherman.

He had Grant’s respect, but not his awe.  “After I crossed the James, the holding of Richmond was a mistake. . if he left Richmond when Sherman invaded Georgia, it would have given us another year of war“.

At Appomattox, Lee dressed. . .  like a victor . . . in his very finest silver grey.

I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”  Ulysses S. Grant

Following Lincoln, and ‘malice toward none‘, Grant refused Lee’s sword, and sent him freely off .  Only five days later, Lincoln was assassinated.

Lee’s stature in the South has been mythic, both then and. . . to this day.  His equestrian statue in Lee Park, Charlottesville, is . . .26 feet . . .high.  For Robert E. Lee, and for most southerners. . . to this day, something northerners don’t understand. . . to this day . . .is that homeland freedom, not slavery, was the great issue of the Civil War.  As in all eons past, when your land is all you have, you defend it with your life.

The best Union General, General Lee?  ” McClellan, by all odds“. . .!!

 

Stuff of Reality

What something is, is different from what something is not.   It is fundamental logical truth that when something is something, it can not also, then, be what it is not.

What physicists seem to have found, however, is that the very basic stuff of reality. . . is both what it is and what it is not.  It is both continuous and discontinuous. . . smooth and flowing like a wave, and discrete and moving like a particle.

Physicists today call this wave-particle stuff quantum fields.  Quantum fields are invisible ghosts of potentiality.  Undisturbed, they are undulating waves of continuous possibility.   Disturbed – ‘measured’ –  ‘observed’, they are moving particles and events.

Erwin Schroedinger discovered an equation that describes the state of a given quantum field and how it behaves.

There is no ‘energy’ in the Schroedinger equation, a central point that means that whatever is ‘waving’ in the Schroedinger wave equation is neither energy or matter.  It is terribly important that no one knows ‘what’ is waving in the Schroedinger wave equation.”   Stuart A. Kauffman.

Slam a quantum field with an intense point of energy.  This is what Particle Accelerators do.  With long tunnels of electromagnetic and superconducting powers, they drive particles to ever higher speeds, and focus them, with extreme precision, to collide into each other – “like aiming a rifle at a mosquito sitting on the moon“.  Leon Lederman  From how the bits of debris scatter, and where they scatter, physicists learn about quantum fields.

There are different kinds of quantum fields, it seems, quantum fields of gravity, of electromagnetism, and of nuclear forces.  They must be unified in some way.  This was something that Albert Einstein was trying to discover in the last thirty years of his life.

Peter Higgs, in Scotland, 37 years ago, figured that a certain other kind of field must also exist, a field that interacts with radiation and energy, and creates mass, and the material world that we can know.  When particle accelerators became powerful enough, in 2012, the Higgs field was found.

“Over the 20th century, we came to picture all forms of matter as accumulations of transient disturbances in ubiquitous fields.  Some of those fields, when cold, create space filling mists – the Higg’s field is one.  Like morning dew, they are spontaneous emanations, thrown off as the fields settle into equilibrium.”  Frank Wilczek.

Quantum fields seem layered, creating a giant jello cake Universe, in which some layers are like whipped cream and allow radiation unhindered to travel at the speed of light, the fastest anything can go, and some layers are like caramel, with resistance to movement causing mass and the gravity that creates the planets and galaxies.

The layers jiggle as events occur. . .  not totally randomly, but with predictable probability . .  and  with mysterious unity.  Where there is a bounce one way, there is somewhere else a bounce the other way.

There must be other layers. . . A field of consciousness. . .maybe?

“I’d expect complex biochemistry to be consistently biased in the direction that leads closer to consciousness, as gravitation biases motion towards massive objects.  I have no evidence for this idea.  It’s just the way biology seems to work.” David Gerlenter

And God said . . .

Tyrant Lizard King

600 million years ago, in the Burgess Shale fossils of Canada, one can see dramatic changes happening in evolution.  Life is exploding in form and diversity.  Nature is experimenting wildly, with body shapes, body parts, eyes, and heads, fossils that look like Pixar animation.  We aren’t sure why, but at that time, animals started eating other animals . . .alive.  The dance of predator and prey, it seems, was creating an evolutionary storm

It is one thing for life to learn to survive in the elements, to be able to find and digest food, reproduce and survive the weather.  It is another to survive the attacks of other living beings, to outsmart other beings that are trying to outsmart you.  A spiral of deceit and evasion and ferocity develops.  Both predator and prey push each other to get bigger, and quicker, and meaner, and smarter . . . fast.  

Forward 350 million years, as the great single-continent land mass, PANGEA, is splitting apart,  causing a hell-fire holocaust of volcanic eruption called the Permian Extinction, predator and prey evolution culminates in the age of the dinosaurs.

as the world was going to hell, dinosaurs were thriving, somehow taking advantage of the chaos around them”  The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs,  Steve Brusatte.

Prey became bigger and more herd-like, utilizing defense in numbers and size, and more and more armored with horns and plates of skin. The Sauropods, like Argentinosauris – the largest animal ever on land on Earth –  were four London buses long and five stories tall.

Predators became more and more cunning and vicious killing machines.   Initially it was the crocodile, Archosauros, that ruled the killer world. Then came the Allosauros, the “butcher of the Jurassic”.  Finally came the  most ferocious hunter and killer of our planet’s history. . . Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

Movie maker Steven Spielberg, did not have to exaggerate the evil, monstrous nature of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

T. Rex appears, almost exclusively in North America, 85 million years ago.  He was 35-40 feet long, could weigh up to 7 tons, had teeth the size of bananas, 58 of them, the head the size of a car, and massive, bone crushing jaws capable of 3000 pounds of pressure, the strongest bite of any known animal on earth. His skull was built like an airplane fuselage, to withstand the forces of his bite.  All his action was in his head.  He didn’t chew. . .he ripped and crushed.  He bit deeply and. . . pulled.    

T. Rex hunted in packs. He had exceptional low frequency hearing.  Like a seismometer, he would know, from far away, where you were.  His camera eyes were the size of grapefruits.  He had satanic horns for eyelashes.   He was covered in scales and feathers like some freakish Mardi Gras nightmare.

 T. Rex was the largest predator that has ever lived on land in the 4.5 billion years of life’s history on Earth.  This meat lusting monster travelled in packs!  He had bird’s lungs, and could breath in his bones.  He could run 25 miles per hour.  He was as smart as a chimpanzee. . the animal today that is thought to most closely rival human intelligence!  He had very good smell.  His only ‘weakness’ – he couldn’t turn well.  

Empathy was not much in the T Rex brain.  Young T. Rex may have wanted to get away from Momma T. Rex as soon as possible.

To this day, there is no fossil evidence of T. Rex eggs. . . .

Triceratops seems to have eventually been his main prey, a 40 ton gargantuan – the size of 5 elephants – with very thick scale and a giant, goring central unicorn horn. He was hard to bite without getting pierced.  

 T. Rex was just so good that his success was likely spelling his own doom, as he would eventually kill himself out of food.  Before that, only God, it seems, could stop this Devil on Earth, and it seems God actually did. 

Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops were present on the Day of the  Chicxulub asteroid impact 65 million years ago, the great inferno that brought to an end the Age of Dinosaurs, and T. Rex, and the spiraling horror show of predator and prey.    

Birds are the only surviving dinosaurs today.

Nature it seems, for a long time was better at making killers than cooperators.  Only small, nocturnal, rodent mammals, running under foot, at night, could co-exist in the Tyrannosaurus heyday, too small to bother with for T. Rex.  Only after the asteroid impact could gentler predators, and greater cooperation. . .the age of mammals. . . flourish.  

Eventually came Humans, as good at cooperation as T. Rex was at killing. They may be next to put themselves out of business. . .  if God doesn’t.   

 

Science Priest

Isaac Newton got the concepts right, perhaps better than anyone else in history.    Mass is quantity of matter.  Momentum is quantity of motion. Force is change in motion. Change of motion is acceleration.  Mass is resistance to force.  Force equals mass times acceleration.

F=ma

This equation “is the basis of our mechanical, civil, hydraulic, acoustic, and other types of engineering; it used to understand surface tension, the flow of fluids in pipes, capillary action, the drift of continents, the propagation of sound in air and in steel, the stability of structures like the Sears Tower or one of the most wonderful of all bridges, the Bronx-Whiteston Bridge    Leon Lederman

Alone on his aunt’s farm, to escape the plague after graduating from college, he developed the laws of motion for both the planets in space and falling bodies on earth.  To explain his laws, he developed a whole new system of mathematics, the calculus, which gives dynamic change to geometry.  He is still the greatest scientist of all time.

He seemed to know that his mind was different.

Common people did not know how to abstract their thoughts from their senses.  Speaking always of relative quantities or measures, they are thus unable to discern the true, real world that lay beyond their perceptual cloaks.”

He was certain that his ideas were correct.

He was not much interested in convincing others. He avoided argument – the ‘legal sphere’.  Why waste one’s precious time?  He kept his discoveries to himself for almost 20 years, until Edmond Halley,  of Halley’s comet, pressured him to publish.

Born into the puritan tradition, an orphan raised by priests, he was a devout believer in God, and an exacting student of the Bible.

He was a ‘natural philosopher’ and that included theology.  Getting the concepts right meant getting God right too.  Be clear about God so as to be clear about Nature.  God is both immanent – in all things, and transcendent – above all things.   Absolute Space is the universal presence of God.  Absolute Time is the omniscient consciousness of God.  The Laws of Nature are Transcendent, like their creator.  Gravity, like God, is a omnipresent, a universal power, active everywhere.

The principles I consider, not as occult qualities supposed to result from the specific Forms of things, but as general laws of Nature, by which the things themselves are formed; their truth appearing to us by Phenomena, though their causes be not yet discovered.”

As We are in God’s image, our reason is God’s gift to us to discover the laws of nature.  And as God is unitary, so is truth.  Truth must be consistent and agree with observation.  Science, for Isaac Newton, was a religious calling, Our human reason can be trusted.

His great treatise,  Philosophiae Principia Naturalis Mathematica – the greatest book of science ever written – for him, was written in the tradition of Moses of the Bible.

And yet he remained humble, mindful of what he didn’t know.

Thus far I have explained the phenomena of the heavens and our sea by the force of gravity, but I have not yet assigned a cause to gravity. . . I have not as yet been able to deduce from phenomena the reasons for these properties of gravity, and I do not ‘feign’ hypothesis.”

Isaac Newton gave the same intensity that he gave to natural philosophy, to the study of Christian history.  Any polytheism is blasphemy,  and always leads to corruption. . .  in all things, in theology. . . and in natural philosophy.

His studies convinced him that the notion of the Trinity was wrong –  a giant conspiracy starting at the Council of Nicosia, with the falsely added 1 John 5:7, and 1 Timothy 3:16 verses to the King James Bible.  In his time, in England, denial of the Trinity was a capital crime.  He kept these views to himself.

Sir Isaac Newton didn’t like music, poetry, or literature.  He never married, and had no known personal companion.  He was buried in Westminster Abbey . . . ‘like a king’.

Alien

A fish won’t stare at you, but an octopus will.  They watch you, with their human-like camera eyes, as much as you watch them. They are the smartest animal that has stayed in the sea, the only invertebrate – animals with no backbone – with a large brain.   Though as primitive as shell fish, they have as many neurons as a dog.

Octopus are hunters and predators, but with no physical defense.  Unlike their ancestors, they did not retain their shells.  They can ink the water to escape, and do instantaneous camouflage, and a few are poisonous, but mostly they are mobile, and smart. . . brains over braun.  Two thirds of their brain cells are in their eight arms.  They can squeeze thru an opening as small as one of their eyes.

They are minds that swim.

Their squishy bodies, with no hard parts, are pure tasty, and quick, digestible meat.  They are hunted by all the predators of the sea.  Their life span is short, they die shortly after breeding just once.  Life is risky, they go for broke.

They are ingenious at escape, and always try.  They have been known to open a jar . . . from the inside . . . to get free.  They seem able to recognize particular individual humans.  When they escape, they are uncanny at picking the moment you aren’t watching them.

When you work with fish, they have no idea they are in a tank, somewhere unnatural.  With octopuses it is totally different.  They know they are inside this special place, and you are outside it. All their behaviors are affected by their awareness of captivity.”  Peter Godfrey-Smith

They have been found to have perceptual constancy –  they understand an object is the same object, from different points of view.  They have comparative memory analysis – they can bring past experiences to bear on present situations and decisions .  They have curiosity.  They will interact with something, even when they know they can’t eat it.  They do step by step action, like other animals with consciousness, they can navigate mazes.

They are not considered to be social, but divers have known then to ‘high five’ each other . . . !

They have three hearts and blue-green blood.

We humans are not just conscious, but also are self-conscious, we have awareness of ourselves along with our awareness of the world, an eerie sense of two-ness that haunts us, and we sense that the octopus has that too.

Meeting an octopus, is, in many ways, the closest we are likely to get to meeting an intelligent alien.” Peter Godfrey-Smith 

They may BE alien.  Scientists have very recently decided that since their genetics and intelligence are so much a leap from their origins that some of their DNA, literally, may have come from outer space, carried in the spray of meteors from outer space.

the genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity, with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than is present in Homo Sapiens. . . the possibility that cryopreserved octopus eggs arrived in icy bolides [in meteors] several hundred million years ago should not be discounted, as that would be a parsimonious cosmic explanation for the Octopus’ sudden emergence on Earth circa 270 million years ago.”   Steele, et. al.  Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, March 2018.