Trachyteuthis

Steve O'Shea

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Positively wonderful news. This fine specimen is winging its way over here.
http://www.paleosearch.com/3057.asp

Courtesy of Myopsida (on the Physio & Bio forum) we're going to try the following technique: http://gobiidae.com/methods/method_clear_and_stain.htm : on both primitive octopods (cirrates), hopefully (a dream) a fresh specimen of Vampyroteuthis (we can procure magic here in New Zealand), and a variety of squid species; hopefully we'll be able to mimic the transparency in this fossilised Trachyteuthis.

It's going to take a while to get the results (to turn Recent squid transluscent), but I think the effort will be well worthwhile (what do you think, Phil, Neale?). Perhaps there are additional suggestions out there.

We'll get a detailed description of this magnificent Trachyteuthis online, as soon as it is in my shakey hands. This particular specimen will be accessioned into the collections of the National Museum of New Zealand; such a priceless specimen should be looked after, long after I'm pushing up daisies. I'll endeavour to procure additional comparative material.
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Phil

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This specimen of Trachyteuthis is absolutely astounding.

What Steve has procured here is an approximately 95 million year old fossil cephalopod, an incredibly rare fossil in itself and exceptionally so given its state of preservation. This animal dates from the Cenomanian Stage of the Middle Cretaceous. These lithographic limestones are a lagerstatt, or a site of exceptional fossil preservation, and hail from from the Hajoula mountains above Jbeil in Lebanon. Examples of earlier species of Trachyteuthis are known from the Solnhofen limestones in Germany from the Upper Jurassic.

The animal itself is believed to be a vampyromorph, and probably shared a common ancestor with the modern Vampyroteuthis, though the particular branch this Trachyteuthis lies on left no modern descendants post Cretaceous, as far as is currently understood. Some researchers have placed this animal on a branch that led to the cuttlefish.

More details to be forthcoming soon.



[Ed: Date edited above 11/12/03. Previously read Albian]
 

Steve O'Shea

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Ta Phil.

I've attached a pdf file of a paper I did a few years ago now .... [Ed1, no I haven't; pdf attachments not allowed a little message tells me; I've attached 3 pics to this message and one to a following; I'm sure Tony can edit and link to a pdf later. Ed2 - had to reduce the image size ... yikes ... and now the pics look horrid; all too be fixed up soonish].

--
Editor's note: Fixation-induced artefacts in octopus -- fixed! :)
--

The revision referred to in the opening paragraph of the paper has since been published:

O’Shea, S. 1999. The Marine Fauna of New Zealand: Octopoda (Mollusca: Cephalopoda). NIWA Biodiversity Memoir 112: 280pp.

And the species of Thaumeledone referred to in this old paper has now been named Thaumeledone zeiss (in the 1999 revision).

I've attached this pdf as it would be interesting, when sending the squid/octopus/vampyromorphs translucent, to try and duplicate the condition of the Trachyteuthis at the time of fossilisation.

Phil, Kevin, Neale, can you shed any light on how this Trachyteuthis could have fossilised? Was sediment deposition rapid? Do you think the environment was quite anaerobic? Do you think the specimen has been compressed in the fossilisation process? I ask because when sending Recent examples translucent I'm not sure whether I should be using relatively fresh (and rotund) specimens, specimens fixed post thaw (and relaxed, with their mantles slumping laterally), whether I should remove as much O2 from the solution as possible (or render it quite anaerobic), or whether I should let the specimens decompose a bit ... (heaven forbid) before fixing them (or try this technique anyway).

Has anyone tried making a fossil squid, duplicating the environment in which these animals are found? I would imagine fossilisation to have been a rapid process, otherwise the tissues would have decomposed quite seriously; if not then there couldn't have been much bacterial action on the sea bed where these animals fell.

Read the attached (and fall to sleep).
Cheers
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Steve O'Shea

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final page (4); you have to read them 1, 2, 3 and 4.
 

Jean

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WOW Steve that is an amazing fossil, very very very exciting(actually jerked me out of my final write up stupor :shock: and got a response resembling excitement!!) :mrgreen:

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Steve O'Shea said:
Has anyone tried making a fossil squid, duplicating the environment in which these animals are found? I would imagine fossilisation to have been a rapid process, otherwise the tissues would have decomposed quite seriously; if not then there couldn't have been much bacterial action on the sea bed where these animals fell.
I've studied invertebrate palaeonology (although I'm more of an expert on mammal diagenesis) and the woman who taught us did her PhD on the Solnhofen limestone so we did dwell on it (and contrasted it with the Burgess Shale) and it is largely due to the conditions stopping decomposition - Architeuthoceras' links are a good start into the kind of thing.

I'll ponder this lind of thing - it may be possible to simulate the conditions and induce the kind of replacement with minerals that happens but I wouldn't put money on it.

And thanks for the picture - it looks to be a beautiful specimen :)

Emps
 

Steve O'Shea

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Thanks all; a lot of extremely helpful links and info there.
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Phil

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As for the context of the deposit, this is a direct quote from fossilmuseum.net. (Thanks for the link, Kevin).


...... the sublithographic limestone deposits of Sahel Alma, Hajoula and Haqel,........ these deposits are most famous for their exquisitely-preserved fish, but show a diversity of other well-preserved fossils such as shrimp and lobsters. The deposits are indicative of a warm and shallow sea that was made up of small basins only a few hundred meters across. These deposits now rest some 270 meters below the current surface.Geologists currently believe these basins had their origins at the intersection of block fault systems. The Baensch Fossil Atlas lists over 70 genera of fish found within these deposits, most all of which are known from unparalleled-quality specimens preserved in remarkable detail.
 

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I have had a think about this and actual fossilisation would be tricky an difficult and possibly unnecessary - esp. trying to simulate fossilisation like the above with animals like squid.

My initial thoughts would be to try to inject some kind of dye into the squid and then compress it (I'd go a hrad layer, the squid, some kind of clear layer and then the top). You could then either allow naturaly decomposition to remove the soft body parts or you could use some kind of chemical. You would have to make sure the dye was the right kind so it didn't wash away..

Anyway just an initial thought but it might give you some directions to investigate - I remember seeing things a resin circulatory system derived from injecting resin into a corpses veins and I'm sure that the medical, forensic and veterinary profession are experts at dying all sorts of things - you could probably find a serious mailing list or newsgroup to ask further questions in.

Emps
 
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