A long extinct octopus.

Awesome! I've been interested in this (ie, what's the oldest octopus fossil?) for a long time! So elusive of course; no bones...

Here is the English translation coutersy of AltaVista's Babelfish:

English Translation (this takes a few moments to process)
Re: A long extinct octopus.

Phil said:
Even if you can't speak French, it's well worth a look. What a fantastic fossil!

Is that a fin at its posterior?

Never mind the octopod, that chestnut is spectacular.

Could be posterior fins. That might be a second lobe folded beneath the mantle.

The level of preservation is incredible. Entombment had to have been instantaneous. What are the fossil's dimensions?


Just noticed, it appears to have SEVEN arms. OK, one might be concealed behind the mantle............but maybe not?

Draw what conclusions you will!

As for dimensions, I really don't know. I've only got this one photo to go on so your guess is as good as mine. I wish I had a few pics more to reveal.
Thanks to Clem, here we have another fossil octopus: Palaeoctopus newboldi. which is from the late Cretaceous period and was found in Lebanon.


This is the earliest known true octopod, apparantly the French Jurassic fossil Proteroctopus ribeti posted above is undetermined as to its classification. It has been classified as a Vampyromorph (from which the modern octopus and modern Vampyroteuthis stem), or possibly it is an even earlier true octopod.

Some researchers have been attempting to determine the presence of ancient octopods by looking for secondary evidence; i.e by examining drill holes on fossil crustacea.

It seems to be very hard to find info on these fossil octopi; there is not much out there....
Wouldn't it just!

Now, as mentioned on another thread somewhere, indeed there are some researchers who are sitting on a unique ammonite that does indeed display soft-bodied anatomy. If only they could be persuaded to post a photo here.........eh, Clem?

Fingers crossed......no promises.........
Phil said:
If only they could be persuaded to post a photo here.........eh, Clem?

Fingers crossed......no promises.........

Sorry, I missed that. Got the pneumatic chisel going.

Yes, that would be nice, wouldn't it?

Ressurrecting an old thread....

Just found this fascinating extract. It appears that Proteroctopus is no longer the oldest octopus known. There has been a discovery of a Carboniferous (!) period octopod from the Mazon Creek fauna in Illinois at the astounding date of 300 million years old. This is 160 million years older than Proteroctopus. Interesting that it shares features with the lineage that led to Spirula and the other advanced coleoids. This will obviously have a major impact on our understanding of cephalopod evolution.

It just goes to show how poor our understanding of early coleoid evolution is, one chance find and the whole system requires major revision.

Pohlsepia Mazonensis, An Early 'Octopus' From The Carboniferous Of Illinois, USA

Joanne Kluessendorf & Peter Doyle

Pohlsepia mazonensis gen. et sp. nov. from the Mazon Creek Konservat Lagersta¨tte (Carboniferous) of Illinois is an exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossil coleoid, with well-defined body and arms. Lacking an internal shell and possessing eight subequal and two modified arms, Pohlsepia can be compared with both the living cirrate octopods and the decabrachian sepiardarids, both of which lack a well-developed internal skeleton. Given its sac-like body, lack of a well-defined head and presence of fins, Pohlsepia can be safely compared with modern cirrate octopods. It is the oldest known completely soft-bodied coleoid and as such has great significance with respect to the phylogeny of the group, given that both the octobrachian and decabrachian clades have previously been thought to have evolved in the Jurassic.

The full article is available on the Blackwell Publishing website but will cost $25 to download. Any takers?

ammonites with soft tissue

ammonites with soft tissue preservation are not impossible to find. i have photos of several, and even have a plate of Jurassic aged ammonites from France with soft tissue remains.

email me for photos

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