Sunday, 22 March 2009

Astounding Octopus Discovery

Octopuses have resisted Darwinian evolution for a long, long time. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Octopuses are surprisingly intelligent cephalopods. Known for their eight arms – the word octopus comes from the Greek oκτάπους or ‘eight-footed’ - and their ability to evade predators by squirting ink at them, they are mostly found near coral reefs. In captivity, they have opened cans with their arms and escaped from aquariums with ease.

Now, a new study in the journal Palaeontology examines an astounding find - five fossilised octopuses. This is an extremely rare find. Formed mostly of muscle and skin, an octopus usually decays in a few days after it dies, leaving nothing behind. ScienceDaily reports: “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.”

The octopuses were found in Lebanon in rocks interpreted as belonging to the Cretaceous period. Assumed to be 95 million years old, the fossils are so well preserved that even ink and suckers can be distinguished. Lead author Dirk Fuchs of the Freie University Berlin said, “These things are 95 million years old, yet one of the fossils is almost indistinguishable from living species.”

This find speaks of amazing stasis or lack of change. While dating methods are by no means absolute since they rely on assumptions that can never be tested, the octopuses nevertheless call into question the evolution of these creatures. Like many living fossils such as the coelacanth, tuatara and horseshoe crab , they have basically resisted change for aeons.

The octopuses had to be buried catastrophically. The most likely explanation for the amazing preservation of the animals is the year-long global flood mentioned in the Book of Genesis. It would have provided just the right conditions that were needed to keep the octopus remains intact to our day.


Cretaceous Octopus With Ink And Suckers -- The World's Least Likely Fossils. ScienceDaily 18 March 2009.