Well-Preserved Octopus

on March 21, 2009

ScienceDaily: “Cretaceous Octopus with Ink and Suckers—the World's Least Likely Fossils?” If you needed an “exhibit A” of evidence for catastrophic fossil formation, this is it.

Paleontologists have found the fossil imprints of five octopuses in Cretaceous sediments in Lebanon, and three of the octopuses belong to new species. For the paleontologists (but probably not for many of the rest of us), the find is cause for celebration, as octopuses are a fossil rarity—with “fewer specimens than octopuses have legs,” ScienceDaily reports.

The find also forces scientists to revise the origin of octopuses “by tens of millions of years.”

What’s remarkable is the state of preservation of the fossils, which include “traces of muscles . . . rows of suckers,” and even “traces of the ink and internal gills” in some of the specimens. But what usually happens when an animal dies, especially one that lacks a skeleton? The report states:

The body of an octopus is composed almost entirely of muscle and skin, and when an octopus dies, it quickly decays and liquefies into a slimy blob. After just a few days there will be nothing left at all. And that assumes that the fresh carcass is not consumed almost immediately by hungry scavengers.

No wonder the lead author on the report, Freie University Berlin’s Dirk Fuchs, called the fossils “sensational” and “extraordinarily well preserved”! The relatively poor fossil record of octopuses, combined with these incredibly preserved specimens, repudiate the old-earth model of fossilization and provide powerful evidence for a catastrophic Flood that quickly buried these octopuses in sediments (before they could decay or be scavenged). The find also forces scientists to revise the origin of octopuses “by tens of millions of years.”

The other point of interest for creationists is that while one of the fossils is “almost indistinguishable from living species,” according to Fuchs, the others have fleshy fins on their bodies, unlike modern octopuses. Although the report calls this discovery “important evolutionary information,” it actually informs us of the correctness of the creation model: modern octopuses are either identical to their fossil ancestors, or they have fewer features (and, thus, less genetic information).

In a similar story this week, the Associated Press reports on dinosaur fossils preserved in mud. To whet your appetite, one paleontologist’s comment: “Without the correct environmental conditions, these fossils would not have been found in nearly pristine condition—uncrushed or worn down.”

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