Has The Common Ancestor Of Deep Sea Octopi Been Found?

According to this BBC News article it has.


What makes the story even more interesting is that the octopus in question is a currently existing species.
Octo%201.jpg
The above is Megaleledone setebos and according to recent DNA research (the article does not say whether it was mitochondrial or nuclear) it is the common ancestor of all deep sea octopi. From the article:

“She [Jan Strugnell - afarensis] was looking at the relationship between these different deep-sea octopuses and how they originated.
“She has been able to trace the timeline for their distribution back 30 million years to a common ancestor.”
The species could all be traced back to a shallow-water octopus called Megaleledone setebos, which is only found in the Southern Ocean.

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10 Responses

  1. Yeah, that article caught my eye too. I suspect it’s a case of science-mangling by press release. The caption to the photo hides what I suspect is the real conclusion:

    Researchers have identified Megaleledone setebos, a shallow-water species endemic to the Southern Ocean, as the closest living relative to the clade of deep-sea octopuses

    Of course, “closest living relative” != “common ancestor.”

  2. Have you Scooped PZ with this?
    PS
    HOMO

  3. Shit! This (possibly mangled) press version supplies ready ammunition to the Young Earth Cretinists. (snark)”If the ancestor is still alive, then it shows evilution happens real fast. Also, it disproves ‘man-from-monkey.’ If the common ancestor for all tentacle-things is still alive, then where is the ancestor of man and monkey? Shouldn’t a mankey still be around?”(/snark)

  4. Octopi? The plural of octopus is either octopusses or octopods – octopus, coming as it does, from Greek, not Latin.

  5. I read the BBC article you linked to. Only in the title does it get it wrong. I cannot find some of your quotes in the article. Nowhere else but the title is any mention made of a ‘living common ancestor”. What’s a boy to believe?

  6. The text I quoted was via cut and paste directly from the article. I followed the link and the material is down near the second picture – the one with four octopi in it…

  7. Here is the actual quote from the article.
    “She has been able to trace the timeline for their distribution back 30 million years to a common ancestor.”
    “The species could all be traced back to a shallow-water octopus that lived in the Southern Ocean. Today, the creature’s closest living relative (Megaleledone setebos) can still be found in the icy waters around Antarctica.”

  8. Which is exactly what I quoted…

  9. Strike that there is a difference – when I get home I will email the author because it looks like the article has been changed since I originally wrote the piece…

  10. Jim, I have gone through the contact us page on the BBC website to request clarification.

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