Home History & Archaeology Earlier than the Period of Dinosaurs, There Was a Ten-Legged Octopus

Earlier than the Period of Dinosaurs, There Was a Ten-Legged Octopus

Earlier than the Period of Dinosaurs, There Was a Ten-Legged Octopus


Locked away in a drawer in a museum in Canada, scientists rediscovered a fossil that rewrote the paleontological historical past of the octopus, revealing its earliest identified ancestor. To their shock, not solely did this sea creature exist about 330 million years in the past—earlier than the period of the dinosaurs—but it surely additionally had ten legs!

Rewriting the Evolution of the Octopus

In a groundbreaking research printed within the journal Nature Communications in 2022, researchers detailed the invention of the brand new species of vampyropod which pushed again the age of the oldest identified ancestor of octopuses by 82 million years. Which means they existed earlier than the dinosaurs who roamed the earth from about 252 to 66 million years in the past.

Found within the Bear Gulch limstone formation in Montana, USA, an space which was as soon as a marine bay and is famend for its distinctive preservation of fossils from the Carboniferous interval, this weird discover has reshaped our understanding of cephalopod evolution.

After the invention, the fossil was donated to the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in 1988, the place it remained missed for many years till Christopher Whalen, a paleontologist from the American Museum of Pure Historical past in New York acknowledged its significance. The remarkably well-preserved specimen has served to supply tantalizing clues about their historical conduct and ecology.

The fossilized remains of Syllipsimopodi bideni, the ten-legged ancestor of the modern octopus. (Whalen et. al. / CC BY 4.0 DEED)

The fossilized stays of Syllipsimopodi bideni, the ten-legged ancestor of the trendy octopus. (Whalen et. al. / CC BY 4.0 DEED)

The Distinctive Morphology of the Historical Ten-Legged Octopus

The fossil, measuring 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) in size, was discovered to own ten limbs—two greater than trendy octopi—every adorned with two rows of suckers. This distinctive morphology hinted on the early variety of cephalopods and supplied worthwhile insights into their evolutionary historical past.

Additional evaluation of the traditional fossil revealed proof of an ink sac. A function shared by trendy octopui is the flexibility to kind distractions by squirting out the darkish liquid, suggesting that this historical cephalopod employed comparable defensive methods to evade predators.This exceptional adaptation underscores the enduring success of cephalopods in adapting to various marine environments all through Earth’s historical past.

The scientists named the prehistoric sea creatureSyllipsimopodi bideni—after President Joe Biden in honor of his plans to fund scientific analysis. Described because the “lacking piece of the puzzle” within the lengthy historical past of the vampyropod, the ancestor of each the vampire squid and trendy octopus,  Syllipsimopodi bideni is a pivotal discovery within the subject of paleontology.

As scientists proceed to unravel the mysteries of Earth’s historical previous, the story of the ten-legged octopus ancestor serves as a testomony to the resilience and flexibility of life within the ever-changing landscapes of our planet.

High picture: Representational picture of an historical octopus. Supply: Ariestia / Adobe Inventory

By Cecilia Bogaard




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