Palaeontologists at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Yale University have studied the fossil of soft-bodied creature with 10 arms and claim to have found the oldest known vampyropod – the group of animals that includes octopuses and vampire squids. The fossil was found in the Bear Gulch Lagerstätte of Montana, USA, a rock layer dated as 328 million years old, which pushes back the fossil record of these creatures by 82 million years.

The fossil creature is about 12cm (5in) long with an elongated torpedo shaped body with fins, and ten tentacles with suckers. Two of the tentacles are longer than the other eight, as is found in living squids. It also had an ink-sac and a gladius – an internal hard supporting structure believed to be the remnant of an internal shell. Researchers named the creature Syllipsimopodi bideni. The genus name is derived from the Greek for “prehensile foot”, the species name refers to US President Joe Biden.

The researchers claim their fossil creature is the ancestor of living vampire squids and octopuses. According to Christopher Whalen of AMNH, one of the researchers, “This is the first and only known vampyropod to possess 10 functional appendages”. During their evolution octopuses are believed to have lost two of the arms and the gladius, while vampire squids retained the gladius, but reduced two of the arms to filaments. Whalen also commented: “We have long understood that octopuses achieve the eight arm count through elimination of the two filaments of vampire squid, and that these filaments are vestigial arms”. He went on to say: “Our findings suggest that the earliest vampyropods, at least superficially, resembled squids that are living today”.

References: Science (AAAS) News, Science Alert, SciTech Daily 8 March 2022; ABC News 9 March 2022; and Nature Communications 8 March 2022 doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28333-5.

Editorial Comment: This fossil bears more than just a superficial resemblance to living squids. It has an elongated squid shaped body with a gladius and ink sac, along with ten tentacles in the same configuration as living squids, i.e. eight equal length and two longer. Therefore, there is no reason for calling it anything else but a fossil squid.  (See photo below)

Furthermore, it certainly does not look like a living vampire squid, so there is no reason to call it the ancestor of vampire squids. In spite of their name, vampire squids do not eat blood. They were given this name because of their colour – a dark red-brown blood colouring, and their arms are linked together by a sheets of skin to form a structure that resembles a cape. When they are disturbed they can invert this ‘cape’ to reveal rows of spines on the undersides of the arms. They have a squat body with eight arms plus two long fine filaments they retract into pockets in the webbing between their arms. They do not produce ink, but release bioluminescent chemicals from their arms.

The fossil squid definitely looks nothing like an octopus, so the claim that it is ancestor to octopuses, which have a round body with eight arms and do not have a gladius, is pure evolutionary wishful thinking.

The real significance of this fossil is that it is a fully formed squid, with all the features of living squids, and it has been exquisitely preserved with its internal structure intact. Which, at the risk of boring repetition, again confirms the statement in Genesis that sea creatures were created according to their kinds (Genesis 1:22-23), and they have reproduced after their kinds ever since. During Noah’s Flood a great many sea creatures would have been swept up in masses of sediment, which was then dumped rapidly, thus deeply burying the contained creatures, thus preserving the soft tissues, and enabling palaeontologists to identify soft bodied creatures like squid. If modern day scientists weren’t so obsessed with evolution over millions of years, they would have no trouble identifying this fossil as a squid, and would certainly not have produced what in our experience is the worst example of so much time and space wasted drawing up an imaginary evolutionary tree linking their fossil with completely unrelated kinds of sea creatures.

Creation Research also has several fossil squid in our museum collection. One of these had an intact ink sac, and we were able to do an interesting experiment with it. See our report Fossil Ink Should Make You Think here.

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Photo of fossil from: Whalen, C.D., Landman, N.H. Fossil coleoid cephalopod from the Mississippian Bear Gulch Lagerstätte sheds light on early vampyropod evolution. Nat Commun 13, 1107 (2022). doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28333-5. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence CC BY 4.0