Scientists draw ancient squid using its own 150 million-year-old ink
Fossilized remains of squid were so well-preserved that scientists were able to draw a picture of it -- using its own ink.
Wed, Aug 26 2009 at 1:51 PM
An ancient squid was so remarkably well-preserved, that scientists were able to draw a picture of it using its own 150 million-year-old ink. The remains of a Belemnotheutis antiquus were found by paleontologists during a dig in Wiltshire, England, when they cracked open what looked like an ordinary rock.
What they found inside was anything but ordinary. After mixing the powdery one-inch-long black ink sac with an ammonia solution, the ink they created was of good enough quality to draw the squid-like creature and write its Latin name.
"Normally you would find only the hard parts like the shell and bones fossilized but there are a handful of locations around the world where soft preservation of the muscle, guts and gills has taken place,” leader of the excavation Dr. Phil Wilby told The Telegraph.
"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 affect.”
Wilby says that about 155 million years ago, millions of these creatures were dying out or being killed in this area of the United Kingdom for reasons scientists still don’t understand. One possible explanation is that they all congregated in one area to mate after being poisoned by algae in the water.
As the remains of the ancient squid are very rare and valuable, the scientists didn’t use all of it to make ink, but they just couldn’t resist creating the drawing.
"We felt that drawing the animal with it would be the ultimate self-portrait,” said Wilby.