Scientists have found the oldest known ancestor of the octopus – with 10 hands

FILE – Octopus swims at a zoo in Frankfurt, Germany, on Friday, November 25, 2005. In a study published on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in the journal Nature Communications, scientists described the oldest known fossil ancestor of octopuses – found in Montana 330 million years old. (AP Photo / Bernd Kammerer, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Scientists have found the oldest known ancestor of the octopus – a fossil that is about 330 million years old, found in Montana.

Researchers have concluded that the ancient creature lived millions of years earlier than previously thought, meaning that octopuses originated before the dinosaur era.

The 4.7-inch (12-centimeter) fossil has 10 limbs – in modern octopuses – eight – each with two rows of suction cups. He probably lived in a shallow tropical ocean bay.

“It is very rare to find soft tissue fossils except in a few places,” said Mike Vecchione, a zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who was not involved in the study. “This is a very interesting finding. It pushes the origins much further than was previously known. “

The specimen was found in Montana Bear Pit limestone formation and transferred to the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in 1988.

For decades, fossils sat in a drawer while scientists studied shark fossils and other finds from the site. But then paleontologists noticed 10 tiny limbs covered in limestone.

The well-preserved fossil also “demonstrates some evidence of an ink bag” that was probably used to spray a dark liquid cloak to dodge predators, like modern octopuses, said Christopher Whelan, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History. author of a study published Tuesday in the journal The nature of communication.

The vampire creature was probably the ancestor of both modern octopuses and vampire squid, a sea creature with a confusing name that is much closer to an octopus than to a squid. Previously, according to the authors, the “oldest known final” vampire was about 240 million years ago.

Scientists have named the fossil Syllipsimopodi bideni after President Joe Biden.

Scientists say they intend to admire the president’s scientific and research priorities, whether there is an ancient octopus – or a squid-vampire – with your name – a compliment.

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