Thursday 23 June 2022 04:05 PM Oldest known ancestor of vampire squid was an active predatory hunter - unlike ... trends now

Thursday 23 June 2022 04:05 PM Oldest known ancestor of vampire squid was an active predatory hunter - unlike ... trends now
Thursday 23 June 2022 04:05 PM Oldest known ancestor of vampire squid was an active predatory hunter - unlike ... trends now

Thursday 23 June 2022 04:05 PM Oldest known ancestor of vampire squid was an active predatory hunter - unlike ... trends now

Vampire by name, vampire by nature.

Scientists have discovered that the oldest known ancestor of the vampire squid had extra-strong suckers and hair-like strands known as 'cirri' on its arms that it may have used to trap its prey.

This differs from the modern-day vampire squid, which feeds only on organic drifting matter and is not built for active hunting, with less robust suckers.

The Vampyronassa rhodanica is an ancient species of cephalopod, related to octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

A research team from Sorbonne University in France used a three-dimensional imaging technique on a 164 million-year-old fossilised specimen of this cephalopod.

They found evidence of muscular suckers on the tips of two specialised, long dorsal arms, suggesting it was an active predatory hunter.

A hypothesised reconstruction of the Vampyronassa rhodanica, an ancient cephalopod

A hypothesised reconstruction of the Vampyronassa rhodanica, an ancient cephalopod

A photograph of one of the fossilised Vampyronassa rhodanica specimens in this study. It is thought to be one of the oldest relatives of the vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis

A photograph of one of the fossilised Vampyronassa rhodanica specimens in this study. It is thought to be one of the oldest relatives of the vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis

3D reconstruction and image of the arm crown, and a sample dorsal sucker of V. rhodanica.       a: Reconstruction of the arm crown showing 8 arms, with the longer dorsal arm pair (arm pair I) b: Image of arm pair I showing the suckers and pairs of cirri. c,d: 3D reconstruction of a dorsal sucker in profile and oral view respectively

3D reconstruction and image of the arm crown, and a sample dorsal sucker of V. rhodanica.       a: Reconstruction of the arm crown showing 8 arms, with the longer dorsal arm pair (arm pair I) b: Image of arm pair I showing the suckers and pairs of cirri. c,d: 3D reconstruction of a dorsal sucker in profile and oral view respectively

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ANCIENT CEPHALOPOD AND A VAMPIRE SQUID

The ancient cephalopod Vampyronassa rhodanica had muscular, untoothed suckers and strong 'cirri' on the tips of two specialised, long dorsal arms.

Cirri are hair-like strands that are thought to play a role in feeding, potentially by creating currents of water that help bring food closer. 

These suckers and cirri are more muscular than those of the modern-day vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.

They could have aided the manipulation and retention of prey, suggesting that the ancient animal may have been well-adapted to actively hunt in the open ocean.

This differs from the modern-day vampire squid, that feeds only on organic drifting matter and is not built for active hunting.

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Palaeontologist Alison Rowe said: 'We used synchrotron tomography at the ESRF in order to better identify the outlines of the various anatomical features.

'We believe that the morphology and placement of V. rhodanica suckers and cirri in the differentiated arm crown allowed V. rhodanica increased suction and sensory potential over the modern form, and helped them to manipulate and retain prey.' 

Vampyronassa rhodanica is thought to be one of the oldest relatives of the vampire squid, Vampyroteuthis infernalis.

The vampire squid lives in extreme deep ocean environments, away from the shoreline and often with little oxygen.

It is the only remaining living species of its family, and is also the only known living cephalopod that does not catch and eat live animals.

Instead, the vampire squid eats 'marine snow' - detritus that consists of bits of dead planktonic creatures and faecal pellets.

Not much is known about the physical characteristics and evolutionary history of its family or ancestor rhodanica.

This is because their bodies are largely formed of soft

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