When humans take the drug MDMA, versions of which are known as molly or ecstasy, they commonly feel very happy, extraverted, and particularly interested in physical touch. A group of scientists recently wondered whether this drug might have a similar effect on other species—specifically, octopuses, which are seemingly as different from humans as an animal can be. The results of their experiment, in which seven octopuses took MDMA, were “unbelievable.”
Just think about an octopus—other than their impressive intelligence, they have little in common with humans. We’ve been heading along different branches of the evolutionary tree for 500 million years. Rather than one localized brain with a cortex, or a highly folded outer layer like our brains have, an octopus’s decentralized nervous system includes control centers for each arm in addition to a brain.