Transitional Tuesday: Lycaenops

Transitional Tuesday - Title Image

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had the time to write about any of my favorite transitional fossils, but today you’re in for a treat. And that treat’s name is Lycaenops.

Lycaenops is Greek for wolf face, so the moniker isn’t exactly complimentary, but I doubt that this particular genus of carnivorous therapsid would mind the name. Therapsids, just in case you’re wondering, is a classification of mammal-like reptiles. So, Lycaenops had many of the same physical characteristics of its neighboring reptiles but could move very much like modern day mammals. The shocker here, for many creationists, is that archeologists have found Lycaenops fossils before dinosaurs hit the scene.
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Transitional Tuesday: Eoplectreurys

Eoplectreurys is one of the oldest spiders fossils ever to be discovered. This terrifying little creature is a member of the Haplogynae series. Essentially, this means that Eoplectreurys had 8 eyes and the females lack a hardened genitalia.

Obviously I’m oversimplifying, because we’re skipping over all the interesting genetic facts, but I usually feel the need to include the word “genitalia” in my posts whenever possible. [Read more…]

Transitional Tuesday: Proteroctopus

Octopus fossils are exceptionally rare, mostly because their bodies are made up of the rubbery flesh that makes them delicious after a trip through the fryer. However, this delicate flesh doesn’t exactly stand the test of  time, which is why the Proteroctopus fossil is such a good specimen:

The amazing preservation of Proteroctopus is due to the unique conditions at Voulte. During the mid-Jurassic the whole of France, excepting Brittany, was covered in a shallow tropical sea and Voulte lay in a basin in the seabed. An underwater current propelled animals from surrounding areas into the lower oxygen conditions inside this basin. It is believed that animals were then buried very rapidly thus preventing the rapid decay of tissues by bacterial action.

The Proteroctopus was probably a primitive octopod that eventually gave way to the type of 8-legged monsters that invade most sailor’s nightmares.

The sac-like body appears to have been powerfully muscled and the head is not distinct from the body. A funnel has also been identified. In addition there are two large powerful blade-like fins at the rear of the mantle indicating that the animal was probably a powerful swimmer. As with many soft-bodied coleoid fossils the precise position of Proteroctopus is not clear and some researchers have argued that it is actually a vampyromorph rather than an octopod, but this is not a universally accepted view.

Proteroctopus looks like a fictional sea monster and should be appropriately feared, but if you would like to learn more, check out Tonmo’s fossil octopus page.