Prehistoric Kraken “fun but implausible”

Geologist Mark McMenamin from Mount Holyoke College has been getting a lot of press this week after a presentation at the Geological Society of America meeting in Minneapolis about a giant octopus-like creature that attacked and ate bus-sized ichthyosaurs and made pictures out of their bones. If that sounds more like a made-for-cable movie plot than a scientific theory, it didn’t stop it getting a lot of largely non-skeptical media coverage.

Or there may be a simpler explanation that has more to do with ocean currents and how bones fall into piles than with monstrous, artistically-inclined cephalopods. Ryosuke Motani, a geology professor at UC Davis and an expert on ichthyosaurs and other swimming reptiles, told National Geographic that the ‘Kraken’ theory was “fun to think about…but very implausible.”

Motani proposed an alternative hypothesis for how the bones came to be arranged the way they are.

“These bones are disc-shaped, so when they’re disarticulated after rotting, they lay flat on the seafloor and can get gathered up and packed together by ocean currents,” he said.

As octopus and squid themselves are soft-bodied (apart from a horny beak) there is no direct evidence of the kraken itself at the site.

More information: Ryosuke Motani’s ichthyosaur and marine reptile pages, and the 3D museum.

Alternative hypothesisWhat a superintelligent monstrous squid may have looked like:



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