Tusoteuthis and Cretaceous Giant Squid

Note: Phil Eyden welcomes discussion on this article in the Cephalopod Fossils forum.

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Introduction

Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis, the giant and colossal squid, are enigmatic and awe inspiring animals. Very little is known about the lifestyle of these spectacular animals, despite the examination of numerous corpses of Architeuthis, much of what we know about the animals' behaviour and lifestyle boils down to educated speculation. What is not so well known is that these modern squid were not the first giant squid in the Earths oceans, we have tantalising remains of animals that were at least as large as these modern species that shared the oceans with the ammonites, mosasaurs, giant turtles and plesiosaurs about 80 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Imagine the difficulties of reconstructing these ancient animals when all we have to go on are fragmentary fossilised remains of the pens, or gladius, of these animals!

The teuthid gladius is the internal remnant of the exterior shell of the primitive nautiloid ancestral cephalopods. The gladius is contained within a "shell sac" to which the muscles are attached, the gladius providing strengthening and support for the mantle, the main body of the squid. "Fossil Teuthids" are largely identified and classified by variations in the shape of the gladius alone and comparisons with living species of cephalopods; soft bodied parts, in those rare cases of exceptional preservation, are not generally diagnostic or much use in determining species interrelationships. Unfortunately the gladius alone does not...
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About the Author
Phil
Phil joined the TONMO.com staff in April 2003. He collects fossils as a hobby, frequently plundering a quarry at Folkestone in the U.K. He has a degree in British archaeology and works for a government department at Dover in England.

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