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For decades, paleontologists have puzzled over a fossil collection of nine Triassic icthyosaurs (Shonisaurus popularis) discovered in Nevada's Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. Researchers initially thought that this strange grouping of 45-foot-long marine reptiles had either died en masse from a poisonous plankton bloom or had become stranded in shallow water.
But recent geological analysis of the fossil site indicates that the park was deep underwater when these shonisaurs swam the prehistoric seas. So why were their bones laid in such a bizarre pattern? A new theory suggests that a 100-foot-long cephalopod arranged these bones as a self-portrait after drowning the reptiles. And no, we're not talking about Cthulhu.
Where vertebrae in the assemblage are disarticulated, disks are arranged in curious linear patterns with almost geometric regularity. Close fitting due to spinal ligament contraction is disproved by the juxtaposition of different-sized vertebrae from different parts of the vertebral column. 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.
There is no direct evidence for the existence of the animal the McMenamins call “the kraken.” No exceptionally preserved body, no fossilized tentacle hooks, no beak — nothing. The McMenamins’ entire case is based on peculiar inferences about the site. It is a case of reading the scattered bones as if they were tea leaves able to tell someone’s fortune. Rather than being distributed through the bonebed by natural processes related to decay and preservation, the McMenamins argue that the Shonisaurus bones were intentionally arrayed in a “midden” by a huge cephalopod nearly 100 feet long. (How the length of the imaginary animal was estimated is anyone’s guess.) But that’s not all — the McMenamins speculate that his “kraken” played with its food:
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.
I guess a giant, ichthyosaur-eating “kraken” wasn’t enough. A squid with a stroke of artistic genius was clearly the simplest explanation for the formation of the bonebeds.
Mark McMenamin and wife Dianna Schulte-McMenamin of Mount Holyoke College have come up with their own theory: that it was an old cemetery, where a squid like none has ever been seen used to eat and throw its meals. Now, nothing wrong with that mind you – it’s as good a theory as any, but THERE IS NO CLEAR EVIDENCE TO BACK IT UP.
The McMenamins may believe in the mythical kraken, but University of Minnesota professor and popular blogger PZ Myers says the hypothesis is ridiculous:
"I love the idea of ancient giant cephalopods," says Myers. "But then reality sinks in: That's a genuinely, flamboyantly extravagant claim, and the evidence better be really, really solid. And it's not. It's actually rather pathetic."
"Let me explain something here," he writes. "This 'Triassic kraken' has not been found; no fossils, no remains at all, no evidence of its existence."
Originally posted by iforget
There is as much evidence for this idea than as any other cryptoid I can think of.
Fossils of octopuses are by far the most enigmatic and mysterious of all the ancient groups of cephalopods. Due to their delicate structure fossils of these animals are exceptionally rare, as the soft-bodied nature of the animal does not lend itself to fossilisation. They are so unusual that there is just one known from Illinois, one from France, a handful from Lebanon and a couple of jaw fragments from Japan and Vancouver Island. In almost three hundred million years of octopod existence, the fossil record currently comprises just eight species in six genera - our entire record would fit inside a suitcase! Very little is known about ancient octopus history, how they evolved and developed, or their lifestyle. [at the link] is a brief look at some of the theories surrounding them, the octopus fossils themselves and the sites they were found in. These ancient forms almost certainly do not represent a single line of descent.
Originally posted by iforget
You may not even need the gigantism, that we know to have existed, to have been present in ancient cephlaop species to explain gathering bones into a pattern if you consider it could have been done after the ichthyosaur was long dead