Some 200 million years ago, an ancient squid relative went fishing for prey. However, it never got to eat its prey since it died in a vicious “attack.” Luckily, the exact scene of the attack had been preserved as a fossil for all of us to see.
Ancient Squid Attack Fossilized Forever
Sometime ago during the Jurassic period, which is around 200 million years ago, an ancient squid-like creature went out to go fishing, before getting fossilized with its prey: a fish. It had just managed to use its 10 arms covered in hooks to crush the skull of its prey while it wrapped itself around it when disaster unknowingly struck, unfortunately killing both predator and prey.
Fortunately, the exact moment of the disaster had been fossilized in stone and had been discovered back in the 19th century, although it’s only recently that scientists were able to decipher what’s going on. Per new research, it’s now classified as the oldest known example of a coleoid, which is a class of cephalopods that include squid, cuttlefish and octopus.
Per study author and lead researcher Malcolm Hart, who’s an emeritus professor of micropaleontology at the University of Plymouth in England, the attack itself was vicious, especially for the creatures.
“The head [of the fish] has been bitten through; the bones have got sharp edges where they’ve literally been crushed and broken. So this thing probably attacked the fish quite violently — the bones in the head of the fish are just literally smashed,” he said.
Per the new analysis, the researchers identified the squid-like creature as Clarkeiteuthis montefiorei, which is chowing down on an 8-inch herring-like fish identified as an Dorsetichthys bechei. The squid reportedly had 10 long arms that are strong and flexible. By contrast, modern squids have eight arms plus two elongated ones that ends in suckers.
And given that the squid still had its arms wrapped around the fish and that the fish’s head has injuries, it’s very likely that these two creatures were fossilized together. How it happened, however, remains a mystery since the place where it’s found is abundant in “microfossils that would have required oxygen,” per Hart.