Paleontologists have identified the world's oldest squid-like animal with its prey still stuck in its mouth. It's a rare find which was first unearthed on Southern England's Jurassic coast in the 19th century.
The fossil has been kept in the collections of the British Geological Survey in the United Kingdom. It dates back to at least 200 million years at the beginning of the Jurassic period.
Another creature called 'Clarkeiteuthis Montefiore' is stuck in its jaw
Upon observing the 23-inch ancient fossil, scientists reported that it does appear to reveal another creature with a herring-type fish still lodged in its jaws. This creature has been identified to be a Clarkeiteuthis Montefiore. This discovery dates back to the Sinemuriam age which was 190-199 million years ago.
A close up image of this shows the damaged head of the Dorsetichthys with the arms of the Clarkeiteuthis Montefiorei still locked around it.
According to Syfy, "The research project was headed up by the University of Plymouth, in partnership with the University of Kansas and Dorset-based company, The Forge Fossils. Its extraordinary findings have been accepted for publication in Proceedings of the Geologists' Association and will also be shared a scheduled component of Sharing Geoscience Online, a virtual version of the traditional General Assembly held each year by the European Geosciences Union (EGU)."
Emeritus Professor in Plymouth, Malcolm Hart explained that "Since the 19th century, the Blue Lias and Charmouth Mudstone formations of the Dorset coast have provided large numbers of important body fossils that inform our knowledge of coleoid paleontology. In many of these mudstones, specimens of palaeobiological significance have been found, especially those with the arms and hooks with which the living animals caught their prey."
He continued saying, "This, however, is a most unusual if not extraordinary fossil as predation events are only very occasionally found in the geological record. It points to a particularly violent attack which ultimately appears to have caused the death, and subsequent preservation, of both animals."
Both creatures eventually died and were preserved
A handful of researchers believe that the fish was far too large for its attacker or possibly entangled itself in its jaws so they both slowly settled on the seafloor, died, and were preserved eventually.
Another theory explains that the Clarkeiteuthis Montefiorei took its prey to the ocean in a tactic called "distraction sinking" to try and reduce the chances of being attacked by other predators. However, it resulted in its suffocation.
Hart told Gizmodo that "The predation is off-the-scale in terms of rare occurrence. There are only a very few specimens-between five to 10-known from the Jurassic, and this is the only one from this stratigraphical level in Dorset. It is also the oldest known in any part of the world."