Jurassic Calamari - A Trendy New Fish Restaurant........?

....not at all !
In fact it's Professor Malcolm Hart's title of a very interesting talk on his work about how these cephalopods (Artist's impression R, 2nd from top)  from approximately 160MYA have been found and are being related to modern examples after evolution.

With the erosion of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, new examples are being found constantly, leading to changed understanding of the world at that time.

Examples of these animals were first identified by Mary Anning (R, 3rd from top) in the 18th Century, and many have now been studied and stored in museums.

Despite their very fragile bodies, remarkable levels of preservation have been found, including the sacs of ink (visible at the R hand end of picture R 4th from top) which was ejected to confuse predators.

There are two particular body parts which are found frequestly die to their hard composition; these are the hooks which are found on the arms, and statoliths, which are tiny calcerious particle in the ears picture R, 5th and 6th from top).

The hooks have been found in the position of the stomachs of other fossils, indicating that they were either predated and eaten, or possibly simply washed in later.

These statatoliths are valuable in that they can be scanned using modern techniques that reveal the inner structure of layers, which may represent daily growth.

A very clear fossil shows a fish apparently caught in the cephalopod arms - remarkable given that they would both have had to die together and not be eaten by scavengers. Detailed evaluation shows that the fish head was crushed, rather than simply being squashed by subsequent overburden.This may indicate a high-sedimentation event that caught and buried marine animals very quickly.

Professor Harts's talk showed the developing body of knowledge about our geological history, and the way that modern life-forms can be related via evolution.

You can watch Professor Hart's talk here

[Picures courtesy of Malcom Hart]


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