The specimens represent three new species of ancient octopus,
study lead author Dirk Fuchs of the Freie Universität Berlin said in a
For each animal, all eight arms, traces of muscle, and rows of
suckers are visible, and a few of the fossils even contain remnants of
ink and internal gills.
With boneless bodies made mostly of muscle and skin, octopuses
usually disintegrate into "slimy blobs" after death—making preservation
over time extremely rare, experts say.
While none of the 200 to 300 modern octopus species have been
found in fossil form, the ancient creatures look indistinguishable from
living species, Fuchs and colleagues note.
The fossils' unprecedented detail has shaken up the octopus family tree.
That's because primitive octopus relatives had fleshy fins along
their bodies, said Fuchs, whose study appeared in March in the journal Palaeontology.
But the newfound fossils, like modern octopuses, lack these fins, a
discovery that pushes back the origins of modern octopuses by tens of
millions of years.
Copyright: National Geographic