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Jurassic Ink Sac Discovered…Fresh In Stone

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 19th, 2009


A picture of the creature and its Latin name was drawn using its ink.

The BBC News is carrying this breaking news on August 19, 2009:

Palaeontologists have drawn with ink extracted from a preserved fossilised squid uncovered during a dig in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

The fossil, thought to be 150 million years old, was found when a rock was cracked open, revealing the one-inch-long black ink sac.

Dr Phil Wilby of the British Geological Survey said it was an ancient creature similar to the modern-day squid.

“The structure is similar to ink from a modern squid so we can write with it,” he said.

‘Medusa effect’

The find was made at a site which was first excavated in Victorian times where thousands of Jurassic fossils with preserved soft tissues were found.

Dr Wilby, who led the excavation, said: “We think that these creatures were swimming around during the Jurassic period and were turned to stone soon after death. It’s called the Medusa effect.”

Experts believe one possibility is that thousands of the creatures congregated in the area to mate before being poisoned by algae in the water.

Remains of a different species of squid have also been found, suggesting the carcasses attracted predators to feed on them and they in turn also died.

Dr Wilby said: “They can be dissected as if they are living animals, you can see the muscle fibres and cells.

“It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old.”

The specimen is now in the British Geological Survey collection in Nottingham.

Part of the ink sac has been sent to Yale University in America for more in-depth chemical analysis.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


12 Responses to “Jurassic Ink Sac Discovered…Fresh In Stone”

  1. korollocke responds:

    This pretty cool. Could the area have been a dead zone like we have now in the Gulf of Mexico?

  2. Quacker1 responds:

    I could understand preservation of the ink sac. Though rare, internal soft parts can be preserved, and with a species as common as this small squid, there’s bound to be a few specimens preserved in such a way. I’m truly amazed, however, that it’s so well preserved that its ink can be used to draw its own picture. Talk about writing your own obituary.

  3. CryptoInformant 2.0 responds:

    Well, it’s interesting that Belemnoteuthis had an ink sac, something posessed by its modern relatives, the squid and octopi – perhaps ammonites also had this adaptation?

  4. bigfootsdad responds:

    Dr Wilby said: “They can be dissected as if they are living animals, you can see the muscle fibres and cells.

    “It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old.”

    To say “it is difficult to imagine” for “150 million years” is an extreme understatement! Try imagining 150 million years. It would take a few life times. Another extreme understatement. Difficult to accept with a scientific mind.

  5. sschaper responds:

    Non-fossilized soft tissue can’t last a hundredth of that time. Proteins break down over time due to physical effects. Ergo those particular fossil beds have to be in the thousands to tens of thousands of years in age, if those are *non-fossilized* soft tissues.

  6. cryptidsrus responds:

    Great story and discovery.

    Interesting ancestor of the Squid and Octopus, I must say.

    That’s nothing. Around 2007 (if I remember correctly) a bacterium that had lain dormant for 8 million years (I think) in Ice Core samples taken from a “lake” in Antarctica were succesfully revived and as far as I know, still live. Barely, but they live. Apparently they don’t need to be “fed” all the time. So this news is still Great but not totally surprising.
    Who’da thunk it, anyway. :) Thanks, Loren.

  7. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Regarding the 8 million year old bacterium — it would be very, very hard to prove that this was not a more recent bacterium that was introduced through contamination.

    If the ink sack had been preserved as some sort of greasy stain, no problem. If some of its proteins had somehow survived, as they are reported to in the bones of T. Rex, maybe. (I think those claims are still disputed.) But for the ink to remain liquid for 100+ million years? Get real. And even if something like that were found, it would be a valuable insight into the biochemistry of Jurassic cephalopods. No paleontologist worth his fedora would think of wasting the sample for something a stupid as drawing a picture.

    BOGUS!

  8. Quacker1 responds:

    Well, when ‘soft’ tissue was found in an ancient T-Rex fossil, the tissue was fossilized and had to have the mineralized portions removed while the rest was re-hydrated. I haven’t been able to find specifics on this squid case, but I figure something similar has occurred here.

  9. Terrell H King responds:

    “It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old.”

    It is difficult to imagine, like why we don’t find much in the way of meteorites in the geologic column sections, or erosion marks, or trying to imagine how a tree can be fossilized vertically through many layers (even through two coal seams) like we see all over the world, in the standard uniformitarian geologic column model.

    Here’s somethig a wee bit controversial – maybe the rock isn’t 150 millions years old!

    Oh no, I realise I’ve just resigned myself to becoming a scientific pariah, being kicked out of my zoology studies and having to join the ranks of rational people that dared question the geologic column bible, in being branded an ‘uneducated, religious maniac’…

  10. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Let me just take up the meteorite question:

    We do. At least if you count tektites, which are found, for instance, in association with the KT extinction event. Iron meteorites would presumably stand a good chance of rusting away rather than being preserved for the ages. Other meteorites look pretty much like any other rock, which is one of the reasons we don’t find many on the surface today and find them most easily in places like Antarctica where they really stand out.

    As for erosion, I have no idea what you’re talking about, since erosion (and its byproduct, sedimentation) is evident in the geologic record.

    I don’t know about the tree, but I’ll go out on a limb of that tree and say you don’t either.

  11. Matt_J responds:

    If it’s buried in an anaerobic and cool environment, then there’s no light, heat nor oxygen to degrade the proteins. Once it gets locked into a piece of stone, it’s pretty well preserved.

    That being said…if it’s over 150 million years old, there should be no carbon-14 left in it. Do a test and see how that pans out. Of course, if there’s zero carbon-14, that proves that it’s merely older than 35,000 years, well short of it 150 million age. And even if that happens, there will be those who claim the results are faked.

    Still, it’s a starting point on proof of age.

  12. Matt_J responds:

    Again, if the tree is in a low-oxygen environment (like peat bogs), you can stack more and more layers on top of it and it won’t rot but will be buried and slowly fossilized over time. Dig out a coal seam in Illinois, and fossilized tree trunks fall out of the ceiling onto your head. Presumably, the trees were tall in ancient times.

    Meteorites hitting the earth are rare. They’ve probably been pretty rare for a long time. Take 100 geological columns, probably all of them won’t have a meteorite in them. Take 1,000, again, probably still no meteorites. This doesn’t prove that it hasn’t happened. This proves that it hasn’t happened in that spot.

    However, there are craters, craters everywhere. Ancient, eroded and weatherworn craters, as far as the eye can see. Apparently, these don’t count as meteorite strikes–and even some of these don’t have space rocks laying in the bottom of them because they eroded away or were vaporized upon impact. We need an explanation! God’s pogo stick? Clearly, that’s a more sane and logical explanation



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