Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Hot on the heels of last month's discovery of a 43 foot long Cretaceous-era anaconda in South America, paleontologists have again struck gold, this time in the hills of Lebanon. Super-rare octopus fossils have been found there, dating back 95 million years (the Cretaceous period again). Octopi, due to their lack of a skeleton, don't preserve well, usually dissolving away in a matter of days. But because of the lack of oxygen (hence, a lack of scavengers) and rapid sedimentation of the ocean floor, the Labanese octopi are extremely well-preserved, some with their suckers and ink sacs still intact. Amazingly, scientist say that these ancient specimens are extremely similar to modern-day octopi.
Three new species (Styletoctopus annae, Keuppia hyperbolaris and Keuppia levante) have been classified due to this find, taken from a total of five specimens. Nice.