Let's say oxygen is continuously being extracted from the blood of a Giant Pacific, 1-and-a-third years old octopus and will be injected into a human using a process similar to this: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120627142512.htm.

Would the extracted contents of the blood, after being injected into the human, include its hormones with it?


closed as too broad by elemtilas, Chickens are not cows, Cyn, Trish, Alex2006 Jun 5 at 11:10

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm a little confused; why would you extract oxygen from an octopus' blood to support the process in the article? Extracting it from the atmosphere is cheaper, less risky and a currently available technology. Extracting oxygen from the blood of an octopus seems a little convoluted by comparison and certainly far less efficient $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jun 5 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ That's part of the reason I asked if the device would have to be too complicated, actually, because it might not be a completely good idea. In the comic book universe I'm co-creating with my brother, there's a villain who is constantly attached to an octopus. I figured that, instead of them each creating their own air-to-oxygen or water-to-oxygen devices to each be used for themselves, it might instead be more efficient for one to breathe for the other, and, since xenotransplantation is so dangerous, they would find a way to extract some oxygen from the other and insert it into the other. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ Right. Now that I've read your explanation, I think I know what you're going for. You're looking for some form of symbiotic relationship that explains the presence of the octopus. Personally, I don't think oxygen transfer would be it, certainly if it involves any biological interface because as you rightly point out that would be incredibly dangerous. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jun 5 at 2:11
  • $\begingroup$ Cool. And yes, in part this continues their symbiotic relationship. However, we have already developed a symbiotic relationship in a sense, leaving them surely inseparable, and this is their main feature. The main purpose of this device is to explain how the octopus can survive on land (instead of our previous idea that it would just find water every 30 minutes), as well as giving them the cool ability to go into the water. And incredibly dangerous? This will merely share the oxygen contents of the blood after being extracted, and you had already shown us that this should be safe, correct? $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ Alright, sorry. I fixed it. I was at least planning on keeping track and changing it if it needs be, though. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 2:51

The short answer is no; if you're extracting the oxygen from the blood of an octopus of any size or age, then you don't have to worry about hormones coming along for the ride. How can I be so sure of that? Well, we've been extracting medical grade pure oxygen from the atmosphere for some time for use in a range of applications including the treatment of most diving-related injuries and by comparison to the complex organic compounds that hormones are, nitrogen and CO2 would appear to be harder to separate from the oxygen.

Now, as I understand it, most gas separation is done through low temperature separation techniques that involve getting gases down to a temp where one of the gases condenses but the other doesn't, and then just collecting the remaining gas or liquid depending on which you're interested in. It's possible that some organic compounds would have a similar melting or boiling point as oxygen, but I believe that's very unlikely because it's so low a temperature (around 90o Kelvin). Organic compounds, especially hormones are far more likely to liquid or solid at normal body temps of above 300o Kelvin.

But, I have to ask as a frame challenge; why on earth would you be extracting the oxygen from an octopus' blood in the first place? It would have to be the most inefficient method one can conceive of for gathering oxygen for a medical treatment for humans. We can and do already get it straight out of the air, and even if that wasn't possible for some reason there has to be some other source than octopedes which extract it from oxygenated water themselves. This means that the octopus relies on phytoplankton to create the oxygen in the water, then have to extract it for their own use, which we then extract for ours? That would require a small farm of octopedes1 to supply a single patient when we could extract the oxygen from the atmosphere directly and already do.

If there is a significant plot reason for doing this then so be it, but be aware you're going to have to explain this contrivance pretty clearly to suspend the disbelief of the majority of the population.

Edit: Based on further comments, it's possible that some form of biological symbiosis could exist between a man and an octopus, but if it's for oxygen exchange, it's more likely to benefit the octopus than it is the man for the reasons stated above. A human is far more likely to be able to support an octopus' oxygen needs than the other way around. That said, if there is some form of biological interface, it is also far more likely that a hormone exchange is possible. The likelihood of transfer of biological material would depend entirely on the nature of the biological interface supporting the symbiosis.

1. According to this paper, an octopus of approx. 2.3Kg will use around 3.2 Litres of oxygen every day. A human consumes around 550 Litres of oxygen each day, meaning that you would need around 172 octopedes to cover off your own oxygen requirements and leaving nothing for the octopus. Increasing the size of the octopus doesn't help much because the weight-specific oxygen consumption of octopedes is (fractionally) inversely proportional to their size. Also, octopedes, while high consumers of oxygen by comparison to related species, tend to operate at much lower oxygen saturation levels (as little as 11%) to humans.

  • $\begingroup$ If you want to make a classical language plural from octopus that would be octopodes, with an o not an e. (That's because it's Greek pous, podos, foot, not Latin pes, pedis.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 5 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ Re oxygen demand: rather than many octopedia scale up the one you have. I figure 2300 kg ought to have enough reserve gill power to support the human. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 5 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ I had for a short time attempted looking up octopus's oxygen requirements, and knew they were good at working with oxygen and often seemingly lethargic because of their copper-based blood, but had no idea it would be that severe. Thanks for telling me. And @Willk, I would think so, too, but didn't he say that increasing their size won't help much to increase their oxygen consumption? But anyway, the fact that they would have to split it harmed my idea already, and yeah, I'll probably think of something else. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 14:53

If your human and octopus are connected by something like a placenta, hormones could cross.

I see in your comment you are having the octopus buddy breathe with your villain. Not super crazy - the human can avail himself of the octopus gill's ability to extract oxygen from water. That is similar to what the placenta makes possible: the mother breathes for herself and for the fetus with the placenta mediating the transfer of molecules between the body fluids. Oxygen and waste products can move across the placenta in both directions.

Mother blood cannot mix directly with fetus blood because they may be of different blood types and the white cells of one might recognize the other as foreign.

Big molecules can cross, though. Immunoglobulins are big and the mothers immunoglobulins can cross the placenta and get into the fetus. True for other big molecules too including thyroid hormone and others.

If you have a creepy placenta-like structure allowing your villain and octopus to buddy breathe, it would be realistic to have larger molecules cross between the two of them as well. Like weird octupus hormones.

  • $\begingroup$ That's cool, I hadn't thought to use a placenta or something of the like, but darn, it unfortunately it couldn't be used if hormones could get across, that could apparently cause an allergic reaction. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ Re allergic reaction: maybe and maybe not. People differ in how allergic they are. For a fiction you can make your character as allergic as makes it interesting, You can assert he is more or less allergic because of what the cephalocenta allows to cross, or his own idiosyncrasies, or whatever. Maybe he takes allergy medication. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 5 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ Cool, thanks. So your saying it wouldn't be far-fetched to assume you wouldn't have an allergic reaction to these hormones, while still being fully possible? Thanks, I'll say he's not, then. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 5 at 3:12

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