Five octopus fossils, supposedly 95 million years old, were recently discovered in Lebanon, catching scientists by surprise.

First, they were surprised that the octopuses were even fossilized. Unlike animals with hard shells or bony skeletons, cephalopods, like the octopus and squid, have no hard parts (other than the mouth). One report said that fossilizing an octopus was as unlikely as capturing a “fossil sneeze”.

The fossils were exquisitely preserved. All eight arms were visible for each animal, as well as traces of muscle and rows of suckers. Remarkably, a few of the fossils even showed internal gills and remnants of ink.

Scientists try to explain the past by looking at what they see happening today. When an octopus dies today, it decomposes into a slimy blob and disappears within a few days. For an octopus to be fossilized it would need to sink to the ocean floor without being eaten, and remain there without decomposing or being consumed by bacteria while being buried by sediment. How could such a process be possible for an octopus at all?….

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