Prehistoric kraken lair with fossilised ‘self-portrait’? Probs not.

Written by: Captain Skellett // October 14th, 2011 // Just for Fun

It would be remiss of me not to write about this wonderful, but rather unlikely story, given its about a subject close to my heart – giant squids.

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!

At least, that’s an idea presented to the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America on Monday. Here’s the press release and the presentation blurb.

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.)

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google

   

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