Do all vampires fly? Some apparently only move underwater. One particular mollusk in particular that confuses researchers. They were trying to unravel the secrets of the vampire squid. And a fossil can help them with this task.
It’s a fossil found in Hungary: it was originally believed to belong to another animal. It could be the remains of a member of the vampire squid family, new research has shown. It was published in the scientific journal Communication biology.
The fossil is estimated to be between 23 and 34 million years old. Link to Hell Vampyroteuthis, (the hellish vampire squid) to its distant relatives. They lived in the Cretaceous Period between 90 and 150 million years ago.
The hellish vampire squid lives in the depths of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. This is the only cephalopod that only lives at depths between 400 meters and a kilometer. These are extreme conditions of total darkness and the amount of oxygen in the water is minimal.
Most organisms with an aerobic metabolism do not survive there. The animal is the only known survivor of its order, the vampire transforms. Its closest relatives were found in fossils from the Cretaceous Period. But they lived in the shallowest waters on the continental shelf.
The new research is led by Martin Kostak from Carolina University (Czech Republic). He identified a fossil of an Oligocene vampire squid. The find closes the 120 million year gap between the chalk vampire morphs and their modern representatives.
Son of darkness
The new species was named Necroteuthis hungarica. It belongs to the family of vampire morphids. The investigation found that the animal lived in deep waters of the central Paratetis basin, an ancient ocean. It stretched from the Atlantic to Central Asia and included the area in which Hungary stands today.
Researchers believe that the intense competition in the warm coastal waters forced these squids to keep descending in search of food. They later adapted to life in the depths, where there is little oxygen and light. However, there is plenty to eat and there are no predators. The secrets of the vampire squid will continue to come to light … even if they prefer the dark, like good vampires.