Hail squid – a vampire fit for a boss
Researchers at Yale University and the American Museum of Natural History have identified the closest known relatives of octopuses and vampire squid – and named them 46y President of the United States.
Syllipsimopodi Bideni It had 10 arms, fins, and rows of prey to catch prey. It lived 328 million years ago and represents a new species of vampyropod, a group of marine animals that includes modern octopuses and vampire squid.
The researchers named the animal after President Joseph Biden to honor the new president, who had just been inaugurated at the time the study was submitted for publication, and to appreciate his commitment to science.
But the presidential name is just one part of the animal’s significance.
“Our findings suggest that the oldest vampires, at least outwardly, resembled the squid that live today,” said Christopher Wallen, a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Yale University and the American Museum of Natural History.
Whalen is the lead author of a study in the journal Nature Communications about discovery.
“Syllipsimopodi Bideni It also challenges the prevailing arguments for the origins of the vampyropod and provides a new model for the evolution of endocephalic cephalopods.”
Whalen and co-author Neil Landman of the American Museum of Natural History made the identification from a specimen originally discovered in central Montana, which is now part of the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection.
Syllipsimopodi Bideni The fossil record of vampires spans about 82 million years. It is the only vampyropod known to have 10 functional arms. By contrast, octopuses have eight arms, and modern vampire squids have eight arms and two hairs. Squid and other modern squid have 10 arms.
Early vampires like Syllipsimopodi Bideni He also possesses a dissected piece called gladius – the remains of a flattened, semi-transparent inner shell.
“Today, only squids and their relatives and vampire squids have gladius,” Wallen said. “The octopuses have shrunk them into fin props or mounts, which are small, solid, rod-shaped structures.”
Wallen said Syllipsimopodi Bideni It had a torpedo-shaped body. Its fins were large enough, perhaps, to act as stabilizers and help it swim. One pair of its arms was much longer than the other four, similar to the elongated tentacles of modern squid. Researchers speculate that Syllipsimopodi Bideni It used its longer arms to capture prey – possibly smaller animals that had been bombed – and its shorter arms to restrain and manipulate prey.
As for why researchers named the animal after Biden, Wallen said the publication was accepted shortly after the president’s inauguration and the January 6 uprising in the Capitol.
“I somehow wanted to acknowledge the moment in a more positive and forward-looking way,” he said.
“I am encouraged by President Biden’s plans to address anthropogenic climate change, and his general sentiment that politicians should listen to scientists,” Wallen added.
Reference: “Fossil cephalopods from Mississippi Beer Gulch Lagerstat sheds light on early vampire evolution” by Christopher D. Allen and Neil H. Landmann, March 8, 2022 Available here. Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-28333-5
Grants from a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the Biology Program of the National Science Foundation and the Paleontological Society funded the research.