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Oldest (so far) cephalopods discovered at 522 million years old?

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Present-day cuttlefish | Credit: © slowmotiongli / stock.adobe.com
Present-day cuttlefish (stock image).
Credit: © slowmotiongli / stock.adobe.com

If this holds up, it’s a remarkable find:

The possibly oldest cephalopods in the earth’s history stem from the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland (Canada). They were discovered by earth scientists from Heidelberg University. The 522 million-year-old fossils could turn out to be the first known form of these highly evolved invertebrate organisms, whose living descendants today include species such as the cuttlefish, octopus and nautilus. In that case, the find would indicate that the cephalopods evolved about 30 million years earlier than has been assumed.

University of Heidelberg, “Cephalopods: Older than was thought?” at ScienceDaily

Wait a minute. Many cephalopods (octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) are considered very intelligent though it is unclear how they got to be so. Not only is this another instance of stasis (complex life forms emerge early and remain complex) but there is a real possibility that a high level of intelligence emerged early.

Assuming that any intelligence at all could originate via a Darwinian mechanism, early origin followed by stasis does not sound like a Darwinian program for intelligence.

Most molluscs (the larger group to which cephalopods belong) comprise many members for which intelligence might be little use anyhow and they don’t exhibit it — think clams.) So we must also ask, why the cephalopods and not the others?

The paper is open access.

See also: Scientists clash over why octopuses are smart

and

Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

One Reply to “Oldest (so far) cephalopods discovered at 522 million years old?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    It’s wonderful fun to watch all of these EarlierThans converging on a single moment when everything started.

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