Palaeontologists investigate death of pre-historic squid 150 million years ago, with a digital recreation

Palaeontologists have used 3D modelling to look 150 million years into the past, when a prehistoric cephalopod died, and was dragged along the floor of a lake by a steady current. The ancient cephalopod is related to the modern jellyfish and octopus. It had a gas chamber for adjusting buoyancy, similar to the technology used by submarines. A little bit of gas was left in the shell of the cephalopod, which probably leaked over the course of being dragged along the lake floor.

The drag marks constitute what is known as a "trace fossil", which is a rare kind of fossil. These are the marks made by animals that have been preserved in rocks. This particular find includes the fossil of the animal, along with the trace fossil of the drag marks it made after it died, which makes the find incredibly rare. The start of the drag mark is not preserved, which indicates that the animal may have drifted across the lake floor for much longer than what the preserved marks indicate.

Image: University of Manchester

Image: University of Manchester

Dean Lomax, from The University of Manchester lead the team which constituted palaentologists from England, Germany and Spain. Peter Falkingham from John Moores University, one of the researchers, said: "We created a virtual model of the fossil by compiling over 600 photographs of the specimen. We then created a video, which shows the drag mark and the preserved ammonite. Such modern digitization techniques, like the photogrammetry method we used, have really revolutionized the way palaeontologists can study fossils."

Published Date: May 12, 2017 12:04 pm | Updated Date: May 12, 2017 12:04 pm