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200 Million Old Squid Attack

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A 2000 million-year-old fossil of an ancient squid-like creature with 10 arms covered in hooks had just crushed the skull of its prey in a vicious attack. Then the disaster struck, killing both predator and prey. This Jurassic period fossil is the oldest known example of a coleoid, or a class of cephalopods that includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish, attacking prey.

The predator, an extinct squid relative known as a belemnoid had bitten the head of the prey. The bones were crushed and broken. The animals doesn’t appear to have died separately and fossilized together conclude experts. It is possible that the fish was too big for the squid relative, or that it became stuck in the predator’s jaws. This could have killed the squid, which would have sunk to the seafloor with its last meal and undergone fossilization. Scientists have no clue why these dead fishes were fossilized instead of being eaten by a scavenger.

Researchers have identified the belemnoid as Clarkeiteuthis montefiorei. The 16-inch-long (40 centimetres) squid relative was chowing down on an 8-inch-long (20 cm) herring-like fish that had been identified as Dorsetichthys bechei. The fossil dates to the Sinemurian, an age within the Jurassic period that spanned from 190 million to 199 million years ago. The next oldest known fossil of a coleoid devouring dinner is from Bavaria, Germany. It is about 10 million years younger than this one.

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