Business, Finance & Economics

The Kraken wakes?


Shonisaur vertebral disks arranged in linear patters with almost geometric regularity in a “kraken’s lair” at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada.


Mark McMenamin

Nightmarish sea monsters scooping up ships in their giant tentacles are the stuff of mythology and science fiction. Or are they?

Mark McMenamin, a paleontologist from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts said he’s found evidence of giant “krakens” at the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada.

Presenting his findings at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, McMenamin explained that the remains of nine ichthyosaurs of the species Shonisaurus popularis – ancient sea creatures akin to today’s giant squid-eating sperm whales – suggest that a massive octopus-like creature killed them.

The krakens, estimated to be about 100-feet long, either drowned the 45-foot ichthyosaurs or broke their necks, he said. S. popularis lived during the Triassic, 248 million to 206 million years ago.

According to Livescience:

The etching on the bones suggested the shonisaurs were not all killed and buried at the same time, he said. It also looked like the bones had been purposefully rearranged, likely carried to the "kraken's lair" after they had been killed. A similar behavior has been seen in modern octopus.

The Seattle Aquarium has taken video of a large octopus killing sharks in one of its tanks, Livescience reports. "We think that this cephalopod in the Triassic was doing the same thing," McMenamin said.

Scientists are unlikely to find remains of the krakens themselves since soft-bodied creatures don't fossilize well, McMenamin said.