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Stasis: Melanin in squid ink unchanged since Jurassic times

preserved inc sac/University of Virginia

From “Squid Ink from Jurassic Period Identical to Modern Cuttlefish Ink” (ScienceDaily, May 21, 2012), we learn, that two ink sacs from a cephalopod of 160 million years ago contain melanin “essentially identical” to what we might find in cuttlefish today:

The finding — in an extremely rare case of being able to study organic material that is hundreds of millions of years old — suggests that the ink-screen escape mechanism of cephalopods — cuttlefish, squid and octopuses — has not evolved since the Jurassic period, and that melanin could be preserved intact in the fossils of a range of organisms.

One wonders what would happen if such finds were more common. Apparently melanin resists degradation much more than other organic pigments.

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2 Responses to Stasis: Melanin in squid ink unchanged since Jurassic times

  1. Statsis and change are in obvious tension. Evolution relies on large numbers of random mutations to effect any morphological change of signifcance.

    Yet evolution seems to “know” when it has arrived at a good thing and the mutations cease.

    I don’t quite know how to resolve this seeming paradox.

  2. NeilBJ,

    Yet evolution seems to “know” when it has arrived at a good thing and the mutations cease.

    Who said the mutations cease? If a lifeform is particularly well suited to its environment than most mutations will have a negative impact and be culled out of the population so it will appear that the lineage is no longer evolving or that mutations have ceased.

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