CEPHALOPODS OLDER THAN DINOSAURS?
If you've been hanging around this website long enough, you know that I love animals and am fascinated with animal intelligence: crows, African gray parrots, dogs, cats, lions, wolves, and... well... octopuses being among my favorites. I am fascinated by the octopus and squid, in fact, by all cephalopods. Not to coin a pun, I'm a sucker for stories involving octopuses or cephalopods in general. You know when you stare into those strange rectangular irises of an octopus' eye that what is staring back at you is intelligent, and observing you carefully. Octopus have been demonstrated to learn from each other simply by watching each other solve problems. They are wonderfully strange creatures, and recent research suggests that in addition to their keen intelligence, they have an emotional life.
But I was not prepared for this one, which comes courtesy of "B"; the cephalopod may be as older, if not older, than dinosaurs:
The excitement concerns an over-looked fossil:
Scientists have found the oldest known ancestor of octopuses – an approximately 330m-year-old fossil unearthed in Montana.
The researchers concluded the ancient creature lived millions of years earlier than previously believed, meaning that octopuses originated before the era of dinosaurs.
The 4.7-inch (12-cm) fossil has 10 limbs – modern octopuses have eight – each with two rows of suckers. It probably lived in a shallow, tropical ocean bay.
“It’s very rare to find soft tissue fossils, except in a few places,” said Mike Vecchione, a Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History zoologist who was not involved in the study. “This is a very exciting finding. It pushes back the ancestry much farther than previously known.”
That little discovery, if true, would mean re-writing the place of the cephalopod in evolutionary history. We're looking at a very old creature, and I still like the idea that some have proposed that it is such a strange creature that it may have been seeded on this planet long ago, and actually originated somewhere else.
But there's more:
For decades, the fossil sat overlooked in a drawer while scientists studied fossil sharks and other finds from the site. But then palaeontologists noticed the 10 tiny limbs encased in limestone.
The creature, a vampyropod, was likely the ancestor of both modern octopuses and vampire squid, a confusingly named marine critter that’s much closer to an octopus than a squid.
Previously, the “oldest known definitive” vampyropod was from around 240m years ago, the authors said.
The scientists named the fossil Syllipsimopodi bideni, after President Joe Biden.
Whether or not having an ancient octopus – or vampire squid – bearing your name is actually a compliment, the scientists say they intended admiration for the president’s science and research priorities.
Syllipsimodi bideni, huh?
Believe it or not, I like that, but not because the name of the species commemorates "admiration for the president's science and research policies". I have no admiration for the man whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nadda. And that's saying something, because in exceedingly rare moments I could even say nice things about Mr. Clinton, or Mr. Obama, or even the Bush famdamnly. But in this case, like the former White House physician Ronnie Jackson, I think the guy is nuts. Crazy. Whacko. Looney Tunes.
So why do I like the name for the fossil?
Simple: the ink-sack, which immediately reminded me of William F. Buckley's comment about Eleanor Roosevelt, which I happily apply in my mind to the current grifter-in-chief, that wherever he goes upon his flower-strewn march through history, he spreads the same squid-like ink of confusion. Tentacles in everything, messes everywhere, but lacking his relative's intelligence.
As for the octopus, we don't hold your history or current distant relatives against you...
See you on the flip side...
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