Within Nevada’s Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park are nine fossilised remains of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that looked a little like dolphins, but much bigger. Nine remains all in one spot! How did they die? Why were they all found in one place? And don’t they resemble, just a little, the suckers of an octopus, a squid or a GIANT KRAKEN!
According to the blurb, the fossil remains are from a giant cephalopod midden, a collection of bones arranged by a huge prehistoric squid, octopus, or the mythological Kraken. Perhaps this fearsome beast of the sea hunted ichthyosaurs like the epic, iliad-worthy battles of giant squid versus sperm whale. Powerful tentacles curling about the undulating reptilian body, a lover’s embrace turned fatal attraction, tightening, strangling until still and dragging to the depths of the ocean.
The arrangement of the bones resembles suckers because, according to the blurb, they are a particularly grisly self-portrait. An intentional arrangement of the vertebra to resemble the creature’s own suckers. Imagine it – An introspective kraken rising up from the deep and looking deeply at its tentacles with saucer-eyes. Did it want a friend? Was it an homage to the suckers on which its lonely life depended? Was it not a self-portrait, but a picture of a friend, a lover, a child? We simply don’t know.
Granted, these ichthyosaur vertebra do look a lot like suckers, but a self-portrait is a big call.
The media release has received a lot of attention, not all of it good. There’s a rather scathing report from the brilliant fossil-blogger Laelaps and a reply of (sarcastic) support from Deep Sea News.
Unfortunately, cephalopods are soft-bodied and don’t fossiise well, so there’s no evidence of the prehistoric kraken, and certainly none that it created self-portraits. Still, it’s a nice story.
(Just to be clear, I’m not giving this guy a hard time. I think it’s great he has the opportunity to discuss his ideas publicly. It would take some bravery, and I respect that. I wouldn’t agree with a reporting of the presentation as if it were widely accepted fact, though. But even then, I don’t think it’s particularly harmful to readers. That’s my humble opinion, and I love a good giant squid story.)