The ancestors of octopuses lived before the dinosaurs
Scientists say a fossil of the oldest known ancestor of the octopus suggests that the animal lived before the dinosaurs.
The researchers estimated that the fossil is around 330 million years old. It was discovered in what is now the US state of Montana.
The fossil was donated to the Royal Ontario Museum of Canada in 1988. But it was not considered a significant find for many years as scientists studied other fossils found at the same site.
But then some researchers discovered that the fossil showed the many members of an animal and began to study it further.
The 12 centimeter fossil has 10 limbs, each with two rows of suction cups. Modern octopuses have eight limbs. Scientists say the ancient creature probably lived in shallow ocean areas.
Researchers say the fossil suggests octopuses lived millions of years earlier than scientists thought. This means that animals developed before dinosaurs.
The team recently reported its conclusions in the publication Nature Communication.
“It’s very rare to find soft tissue fossils except in a few places,” Mike Vecchione told The Associated Press. He was a zoologist from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who was not involved in the study. “It’s a very exciting finding. It pushes the ancestry back much further than previously known,” Vecchione said.
Christopher Whalen is a scientist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He was a co-author of the study. He told the AP the well-preserved fossil showed evidence that the ancient octopus had the ability to release a dark liquid to help it hide from predatorsjust like modern octopuses.
The creature, known as a vampyropod, was likely the ancestor of modern octopuses and vampire squids, the researchers said. These creatures look more like an octopus than a squid.
The team said so far, the “oldest known definitive“The vampire is thought to have lived around 240 million years ago.
Scientists named the fossil Syllipsimopodi bideni, after US President Joe Biden. They said they chose the name to show respect for Biden’s science and research policies.
I am Brian Lynn.
The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
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words in this story
fossil – nm part of an animal or plant that lived a long time ago and has been preserved in rock
member – nm the arm or leg of a person or animal
suction cup – nm an organ that some animals use to hold or stick to something
shallow – adj. not deep
to preserve – v. keep something the same or prevent it from being damaged or destroyed
predator – nm an animal that hunts and kills other animals for food
definitive – adj. certain and unlikely to change