Cretaceous Octopus Fossil from Lebanese Lagerstatte

Styletoctopus annae

Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda, Superorder Octopodiformes, Order Octopoda, Octopodidae

Geological Time: Middle Cretaceous, Cenomanian Stage (95 million years ago)

Size: Fossil is 40 mm across

Fossil Site: Lebanese Lagerstätte, Haqel (or Hâkel), Lebanon

Styletoctopus annae Octopus FossilDescription: Here is a rare fossil from the Cretaceous Lagerstätte in Lebanon in North Africa. Fossil octopi are rare in the fossil record in large part because they lack either an internal or external skeleton. Thus, the detail seen here requires preservation of soft tissue of the type only rarely seen and usually only found in fossil sites meeting the criteria for Lagerstätten. The genus name comes from its stylets, vestigal shells (i.e., greatly reduced from the original ancestral forms) found within the soft tissues only some octopus groups. This fossil exhibites pretty amazing preservation with details of many soft tissue parts present, with the arms mantle and head preserved in fluorapatite (a phosphate mineral with the formula Ca5(PO4)3F), the orange stain showing some of the internal organs, and the ink sac preserved in three dimensions. There are two enhanced contrast photos below with enhanced contrast to better show details, as well as a sketch to aid in interpretation.

Also see:
Fuchs, D.; Bracchi, G.; Weis, R. (2009). "New octopods (Cephalopoda: Coleoidea) from the Late Cretaceous (Upper Cenomanian) of Hâkel and Hâdjoula, Lebanon", Palaeontology 52: 65–81

click to enlarge

Enhanced contrast images to the left and right. The one on the right is a negative image.


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