Life as We Know It
Flight of the hummingbird, termite cloning and the rise of the octopus
- By Joseph Caputo, T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, June 2009
(Dr. Dirk Fuchs / Freie Universaet, Berlin)
Digging in Lebanon, scientists from the Freie University Berlin and elsewhere unearthed 95-million-year-old octopus fossils—the oldest, most complete specimens of their kind. Typically, a dead octopus doesn't fossilize; lacking a skeleton, it decays without a trace. It's not clear how these were preserved. And since the fossils (a specimen with an ink sac) closely resemble modern animals, the researchers say octopuses must have evolved even earlier than they had thought.
"Tail Shedding in Island Lizards [Lacertidae, Reptilia]: Decline of Antipredator Defenses in Relaxed Predation Environments," P. Pafilis et al., Evolution, May 2009.
"New Octopods (Cephalopoda: Coleoidea) from the Late Cretaceous (Upper Cenomanian) of Hâkel and Hâdjoula, Lebanon," Dirk Fuchs et al., Palaeontology, December 31, 2008.
"Queen Succession Through Asexual Reproduction in Termites," Kenji Matsuura et al., Science, March 27, 2009.
"Wingbeat Time and the Scaling of Passive Rotational Damping in Flapping Flight," Tyson L. Hedrick et al., Science, April 10, 2009.
"Selection for Vulnerability to Angling in Largemouth Bass," David Philipp et al., Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, January 2009.