Compared to other species, octopuses evolve very, very slowly. There are about 300 different species of octopus, which have existed for at least 300 million years. In that time, they haven't changed much. So perhaps the time has come and gone for the orangutan to have the opportunity to govern.
But what about the other 10 million species on Earth? What animal, given a time to evolve, and barring human interference, could be the next us? What species could form something that we would now recognize as an intelligent society? Not because octopuses couldn't evolve to live on land. There are countless fascinating stories of Octopus escape artists out there, not to mention the evidence of tool use, and that eight-armed guy in a New Zealand aquarium who learned to photograph people. As if octopus, squid and other cephalopods weren't strange enough, they may have found a way to evolve that is foreign to virtually every other multicellular organism on the planet. In a surprising twist, in April last year scientists discovered that octopuses, along with some species of squid and cuttlefish, routinely edit their RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequences to adapt to their environment.
The findings also suggest that octopus and their tentacled cousins may be much older than previously thought. However, previous work, partly by the same authors, suggested that the process is used quite often by octopus and squid to respond to changes in ocean water temperature.