95 million year old fossils reveal earlier origin for modern octopus

March 18th, 2009 - 3:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 18 (ANI): Scientists have found five specimens of 95 million year old fossils of Cretaceous octopuses, which reveals a much earlier origin for the modern octopus.

The five specimens have been found by palaeontologists in Cretaceous rocks in Lebanon, which have astonishingly preserved the octopuses eight arms with traces of muscles and those characteristic rows of suckers.

The chances of an octopus corpse surviving long enough to be fossilized are so small that prior to this discovery only a single fossil species was known, and from fewer specimens than octopuses have legs.

Even traces of the ink and internal gills are present in some specimens.

These are sensational fossils, extraordinarily well preserved, said Dirk Fuchs of the Freie University Berlin, lead author of the report.

But, what surprised the scientists most was how similar the specimens are to modern octopus.

These things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species, they said.

This provides important evolutionary information.

According to scientists, The more primitive relatives of octopuses had fleshy fins along their bodies. The new fossils are so well preserved that they show, like living octopus, that they didnt have these structures.

This pushes back the origins of modern octopus by tens of millions of years, and while this is scientifically significant, perhaps the most remarkable thing about these fossils is that they exist at all. (ANI)

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