The ultimate squid self-portrait


I'm still tickled by the British scientists who discovered a cache of ancient squid ink and used it for. . . art:

Paleontologists discovered the remains of the creature, called a Belemnotheutis antiquus, during a dig at a Victorian excavation in Trowbridge, Wilts. They cracked open what appeared to be an ordinary looking rock only to find the one-inch-long black ink sac inside. After realising what they had stumbled across, they took out a small sample of the black substance and ground it up with an ammonia solution. Remarkably, the ink they created was good enough to allow them to draw the squid-like animal and write its Latin name. . . "We felt that drawing the animal with it would be the ultimate self-portrait," said Dr Wilby. (source)

The Telegraph story notes that "part of the ink sac has been sent to Yale University in America for more in-depth chemical analysis," but let's be honest - the Brits got to do the cool part, drawing an extinct squid with its own ink and then labeling it with a dead language. Very cool indeed, Britannia.

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Awesome though this is, I have to admit to being a little disapointed. Your title made me thing that they'd taught some squid to paint!

They have with elephants and chimps so it wasn't *that* far out an idea...

Yes, yes, yes! That is the perfect use for it- It would moulder uselessly otherwise- I'm sure if an ancien dead squid could be flattered, he would.

Nice try but it is a pity they spelled 'Belemnoteuthis' wrong, in 150 million year old ink. Maybe they can find a Mezozoic ink eradicator

By Max Barclay (not verified) on 03 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ooops! 'Belemnotheutis' was actually misspelled by Mr Pearce in the original description in 1842, and thus, as an original mispelling, is preserved under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, and any correction is an 'unjustified emendation'. However, you would have thought that one of the papers would have commented that they had written an obviously misspelled word and explained why-!
Sorry for that!

By Max Barclay (not verified) on 03 Apr 2010 #permalink