Feeds

Gigantic KRAKEN fingered in prehistoric murder mystery

Prof reckons monster was also a Triassic Van Gogh

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Staring at a pile of fossilised ichthyosaur bones in the famous Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada, paleontologist Mark McMenamin had a sudden insight. It occurred to him that he might have cracked the great mystery of this ancient Triassic site.

He reckoned that the carefully lined-up bones of the ichthyosaurs, of the shonisaur family, were the work of a kraken, an enormous squid bigger and more intelligent than any other invertebrate that has ever lived. That's what the professor at Mount Holyoke College told the Geological Society of America, anyway, speaking this week at their annual get together.

How nine of these sperm-whale-sized ichthyosaurs ended up lying back to back in a little pile has puzzled paleontologists since the site was discovered in 1926. Did toxic algae really bump off these giant predators all at once right next to each other?

Another theory that the sea predators were cruising in shallow water and had been beached were disproved by surveys of surrounding material, which suggested they had died and been buried in the deep sea. But could any megapredator have taken down these huge toothy carnivores?

McMenamin saw the answer in this National Geographic video - Shark versus Octopus. In it a small octopus takes down a dogshark in an ambush lasting less than two minutes. He hypothesises that the same thing could have happened in the Triassic era, on a larger scale. He imagines the Triassic kraken to be a horrifying 30m long, twice as large as today's colossal squid.

In a slightly trippy abstract to the paper McMenamin has authored on the topic, the professor explains how the unusual bone arrangements in the archaeological site led to his kraken theory:

"The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait."

No one at El Reg has ever heard of an octopus making a self-portrait, but some of us appreciate its desire to keep things nice and tidy.

Among the evidences of the kraken attacks are many more ribs broken in the shonisaur fossils than would seem accidental and the twisted necks of the ichthyosaurs. "It was either drowning them or breaking their necks," he said.

The soft-bodied octopus didn't survive fossilisation, so there is no chance of a final proof emerging but perhaps we can see its sucker touch in the layout of the bones.

Triassic Kraken: The Berlin Icthyosaur Death Assemblage Interpreted As A Giant Cephalopod Midden, as presented to the Geological Society of America, is right here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.