Research Highlights: New species of cephalopod with ten arms discovered in Montana

New species of cephalopod with ten arms discovered in Montana

  • Vampyropods are soft-bodied cephalopods that have eight arms and an internalized chitinous shell.[1]
  • Researchers discovered an exceptionally well-preserved vampyropod from the Carboniferous Bear Gulch Lagerstätte of Montana in the United States.
  • The newly discovered vampyropod was named Syllipsimopodi bideni gen. et sp. nov.
  • The specimen has an internalized shell and ten arms with suckers arranged in two rows.
  • It is the only known vampyropod to retain the ten arms from its ancestor.
  • Syllipsimopodi is the oldest conclusive vampyropod and crown coleoid which pushes back this animal group’s fossil record by about 82 million years.
  • Researchers showed that Syllipsimopodi is the earliest-diverging known vampyropod.
  • This idea disputes the common hypothesis that vampyropods descended from Phragmoteuthid belemnoid of the Triassic period.
  • As early as the Mississippian, vampyropods were characterized by the loss of the chambered phragmocone and primordial rostrum.
  • Phragmocone is the chambered portion of the cephalopod’s shell.
  • Evidence suggests that the specimen may have elongated arms which when combined with certain structures such as the terminal fins, shows that the earliest vampyropods appeared to be similar to extant squids.


Whalen, C.D., Landman, N.H. Fossil coleoid cephalopod from the Mississippian Bear Gulch Lagerstätte sheds light on early vampyropod evolution. Nat Commun 13, 1107 (2022).

[1] American Museum of Natural History. (2022, March 8). New species of extinct vampire-squid-like cephalopod is the first of its kind with 10 functional arms: Description of exceptionally preserved fossil pushes back age of Vampyropoda by nearly 82 million years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 8, 2022 from

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