The Dreaming Coral
The dreaming coral, Galaxea otis, native to the Great Barrier Reef, is considered by many the most intriguing species known to man. Although at first, the dreaming coral is indistinguishable from its cousins, it has one characteristic which has captured the imagination of people all over the world. To understand this fascination, we must first explore the phylum of the cnidaria.
The cnidaria, which consists of coral, jellyfish and anemones, are widely believed to be the first phylum to possess nerve cells. Although not yet organized into a complex system, as is the case in vertebrates and insects, the cnidaria have cells whose sole purpose it is to transmit information from one cell to another. The first neuron.
Although most cnidarians live solitary live, some, like those found in corals, aggregate into colonies. They live in close proximity, and are believed to maintain “channels of communication” with each other through chemicals released into the water. In dreaming corals, however, this communication is taken a step further.
Instead of relying solely on chemical signals, the polyps of the dreaming coral extend their nerve cells to come into contact with their neighbors. When several branches intersect, communication “nodes” are formed.
When considering the complex structure of dreaming corals, combined with the number of connections made, the dreaming coral has a neural system as elaborate as that of the human brain. In addition, just as is the case with connections in our brains, the firing rate as well as the threshold of neural activation is dependent on the frequency with which a certain connection is established.
First discovered by Phd. Lebert François in 1998, the existence of another nervous system as complex as ours shook the world. Scientists have struggled since to unravel the workings of this “super-mind”. In 2013, Prof. Mike Rowave spent three months equipping the coral with electromagnetic sensors, in order to record an “electroencephalogram” of the coral's 'mind'. The resulting image showed the same activity pattern as one might expect in the brain of a dreaming human. However, the name of the coral predates this experience by several centuries. It was the Aborigines who told the name of the coral to British explorers when they first came to Australia.
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