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Prehistoric ‘vampire’ squid named after President Biden

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A rare prehistoric “vampire squid” has been renamed — after President Biden.

Syllipsimopodi bideni, an “incredibly rare” fossil, had been sitting in a drawer at a Canadian university for decades before one curious scientist took a closer look — and decided to name it for the 46th president.

Christopher Whalen, a paleontologist with the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, told the New York Times he meant it as a tribute to Biden — not a slight.

“I wanted to somehow acknowledge the moment in a way that was more positive and forward-looking,” he said.

“I was encouraged by the plans President Biden put forward to counter anthropogenic climate change and his general sentiment that politicians should listen to scientists.”

Whalen’s paper on the news species was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications but submitted around the same time as Biden’s inauguration.

Syllipsimopodi bideni roamed the Earth’s oceans as far back as 300 million years ago, according to the outlet. Whalen said it is the oldest known ancestor of vampyropods, a group that includes vampire squids and octopuses.

The 10-armed creature is the oldest known cephalopod with suckers on its arms.

Paleontologist Christopher Whalen named the prehistoric squid after the commander-in-chief because he was “encouraged by the plans President Biden put forward to counter anthropogenic climate change.”
Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

“This was sitting in a museum since the ’80s and no one realized it was important,” Whalen said. “We chanced on that importance because I happened to notice the arm suckers.”

The fossil was dug up in Montana in the 1980s and was donated to the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada in 1988, the outlet reported.

It sat dormant until last year when Whalen and co-author Neil Landman took a new look and identified it as a new genus and the oldest cephalopod on record.

But as rare as the find is, it is not the first species named after a US president.

Scientists named nine different species after former President Barack Obama, including fish and lichen, and a moth and caecilian critter after ex-President Donald Trump.


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