Not Much Difference Between a Human and an Octopus?

Here’s something we missed about the uniqueness of human beings. In July the Francis Crick Memorial Conference, at Cambridge University, decided that we aren’t as exceptional as we once believed. At the conference a group of people, mostly experimental neuroscientists, tried to put  to rest preconceived notions of human exceptionalism. They issued a manifesto, the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals. It states:

“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from  experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that  non-human  animals have the  neuroanatomical,  neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with  the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence  indicates that  humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Nonhuman animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also  possess these neurological substrates.”


Michael Cook


Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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