Syllipsimopodi Bideni : Oldest Octopus Fossil
For the roughly 300 known octopus species dwelling in the world’s oceans, having eight arms is a defining characteristic. But that is not the way it started.
- Scientists said a fossil unearthed in central Montana of a species named Syllipsimopodi bideni represents the oldest-known relative of today’s octopuses and boasts 10 arms, with two being twice as long as the other eight.
- The fossil, so well preserved that it reveals two parallel rows of suckers up and down each arm, dates to about 328 million years ago.
- Syllipsimopodi, about 4-3/4 inches (12 cm) long, had a torpedo-shaped body and squid-like appearance though it was not closely related to squids, which appeared much later.
- It also is the oldest-known creature with suckers, which enable the arms to better grasp prey and other objects.
- Syllipsimopodi pushes back by 82 million years the origins of a group called vampyropods that includes today’s octopuses.
- Syllipsimopodi represents the only member of the octopus lineage with 10 arms, meaning two were lost in later evolution.
- There are numerous similar examples in the history of life on Earth – such as the reduction in the number of digits seen in meat-eating dinosaurs or horses.