Fossil squid do sometimes come up for sale like this; one major source seems to be Jurassic Solhofen deposits from Germany. This is a site of excveptional preservation and the source for the seven verified fossils of Archaeopterix, the infamous dino-bird. Some European fossil shops occasionally stock these squid but prices are usually at least $500 or more depending on the state of preservation, rather too expensive for me!
It's worth keeping an eye on e-bay as this was certainly not the first specimen of Trachyteuthis to be advertised here. Perhaps a cheaper one will sneak through one day!
Clem, what on earth is your new avatar? I can't make head or tail of it?
If anyone is feeling rich this month here is another beautiful example of Trachyteuthis libanotica for sale. This Cretaceous squid was probably a vampyromorph. The soft-bodied preservation on this example is fantastic.
For the record, I've just found out that Trachyteuthis is not believed to be a vampyromorph but belonging to the mesoteuthids, a group that split from the vampyromorphs in the mid-
Jurassic and is now believed to be totally extinct. They were not the direct ancestors of modern squid at all.
Yes Sedusa, these fossils really do reach high prices, and doubtless will continue to do so as long as someone is willing to pay.
Have you seen this one for sale? The preservation is unbelievable, you can see the beak, and (is that a) siphon. Interesting that the mesoteuthids appear to have had eight arms of equal length and no tentacles.
Well, I have not seen any examples of Trachyteuthis with fins, but then again I have only seen a couple of photos of this animal. Images are not easy to find.
I am sure fins must be present. Hopefully having finally sorted out this creatures' systematics, it transpires that the Upper Jurassic Trachyteuthis is a member of the family Trachyteuthididae, which along with the Palaeololiginidae, make up the Mesoteuthina, a sub-order of the Vampyromorpha. These Mesoteuthids had some form of distinct gladius, though exactly how this differed from the Vampyromorphs I have yet to discover. (It may have been shovel-shaped).
They had eight arms of roughly equal lengths, and were a split from the Vampyromorphs sometime in the early Jurassic. They left no descendants and became an extinct family in the Cretaceous. Certainly the closely related Palaeololiginidae had fins, and example of which can be seen here as did the Vampyromorphs, the stem group from which the Trachyteuthididae were derived in the early Jurassic.
Practically every source of information on these ancient 'squid' seems contradictory. It's giving me quite a headache.
Oh. I've just found the title of a 2002 German Palaeo-conference lecture as part of the "Coleoid Cephalopods Through Time: Neontological Approaches to their Palaeobiology in the Light of the Fossil Record" by D. T. Donovan, L. A. Doguzhaeva & H. Mutvei called:
"Trachyteuthis (Upper Jurassic): two pairs of fins and their phylogenetic significance"
My headache just got worse.
And another at the 2003 Mainz Palaeontology conference, a couple of weeks ago, by Fox , D. called "The fossil Trachyteuthis Vth MEYER, 1846 (Coleoidea, Cephalopoda) a taphonomisches, morphologic and phylogenetisches problem (lecture)
Two pairs of 'em even ... but that's alright Phil, so does Vampyroteuthis, so I think you're earlier statements are being supported.
I'm off to pull out a gladius of Vampyroteuthis so we can post that here and see what's going on. Tony Orlando & Dawn are beating away in the office right now - great music to dissect to :D
OK, editing last post (saving paper?), here we go; three pics of a damaged vampyromorph gladius (Vampyroteuthis sp. - I'm not going to call this V. infernalis because it is quite likely that more than one species is involved).
Confuse you further Phil? I'm off for a coffee and think.
Thankyou Steve; those have got to be unique pictures on the internet, I've had a trawl round since my post above for information on Vampyroteuthis and have not seen any pictures of the gladius before.
Just a couple of quick questions, if you do not mind:
1) Given that Vampyroteuthis occupies a unique position as the sole surviving example of the Vampyromorphs, does the gladius demonstrate any unusual properties; i.e does it appear degenerate in some way or more primitive than its teuthid cousins?
2) What does the gladius consist of?
As for the two pairs of fins, I did not realise that Vampyroteuthis develops two sets of fins in its juvenile stages. It seems that the first pair are absorbed back into the body at an early stage as the animal switches from moving using jet propulsion to using its web. It would be interesting to determine if the ancient Vampyromorphs adopted a similar strategy, or, more likely, this trait of Vampyroteuthis is a recent evolutionary adaption of the original four-finned state.
I wonder if juvenile specimens of Trachyteuthis and Paleololigo demonstrated a similar transformation en route to the adult stage.
We need more fossils. Or good photos. Lots of them.
Hi Jean; to tell you the truth I just whipped the puppy out, took a shot, and plonked it back into the jar (though concentric growth lines were apparent, but very faint); am a tad pressed for time right now.
When I looked at that first up I said to myself 'something wrong with this picture', as in the gladius was very high arched/cap shaped (but this could be some fixation artefact - I wasn't aboard the vessel when the animals were pickled, but if this particular one was thrust live/semi-conscious/improperly relaxed into formalin at the time it would have scrunched up and possibly contorted the gladius; having said this I don't actually believe it to have been the case - it's just one of those possibilities that can never be discounted). I hadn't seen anything quite like this one (there is another genus out there that might apply for the NZ species - Retroteuthis - this will require a lot more work that I can give it right now).
Phil, we'll do a joint article on that gladius shall we (across a wide range of ceph taxa to ). Months away, but we'll do it!