Desert Companion
 
Subscribe now
Current Issue
SEPTEMBER 2014
Click the cover to read the complete digital edition
Features
Ones to Watch

Departments
All things to all people
Dining
Editor's Note
End Note
Essay
Fiction
Notes and letters
Profile
Q + A
Sports
Take 5
the guide
upcoming events
Take 5
Sep. 19, 6-11p. Classic motorcycles, cafe racers, Harleys, custom bikes, scooters, art, live body painting and music all converge for a fun event....   
Sep. 20, 2p. The former Dodger and World Series Champion shares his hilarious new book, Bring in the Right Hander! My Twenty-Two Years in the Major...   
  0

Kraken

The remote Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in central Nevada is filled with slumbering fossils from hundreds of millions of years ago. But in recent years, this sleepy paleo-park has become a flashpoint of scientific controversy — and now it may just be ground zero for a new understanding of aquatic life in the ancient sea that once covered Nevada. The controversy centers on a series of nine fossilized spines of ichthyosaurs that form a tantalizingly geometric pattern. How that happened has baffled paleontologists and biologists for decades: Did a bloom of toxic plankton do the ichthyosaurs in? Did the currents of the ancient sea arrange their vertebral discs in these eerily neat double lines? Or did something kill the ichthyosaurs and place their bones there … arrange them there? Prof. Mark McMenamin of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts has a literally monster theory. The paleontologist believes that a Triassic mega-cephalopod — essentially, yep, a gigantic octopus — killed the ichthyosaurs. And then, like a trophy-collecting murderer straight out of “Dexter,” the prehistoric octo-beast arranged them in a pleasing pattern in its underwater death-lair. McMenamin argued just that in a presentation at the 2011 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.

A giganto-kraken taking out ancient sea-reptiles the size of school buses? Other paleontologists dismissed him. Science bloggers ridiculed him. All made countless “release the kraken” jokes. “I had people threatening that I’ll never get this peer-reviewed and into scientific literature,” he says. (That’s the science-world version of a major diss.) In his defense, McMenamin points out that modern octopi engage in just this sort of intelligent collecting behavior. And if you have trouble imagining a octopus mustering the muscle to tackle a big fish, simply Google “octopus vs. shark.”

But McMenamin may get the last laugh: On a return visit to the park in May, he found what he believes is hard evidence. “I have the kraken’s fossilized beak fragment,” he says. “As a matter of fact, it’s in my backpack.” Barring unforeseen circumstances, at the Oct. 27-30 Geological Society of America conference in Denver, Colo., he will have delivered a talk about his theory that now includes this latest evidence. “I will admit to having a feeling like Dorothy coming back with the witch’s broom,” McMenamin says. He’s sparked a renewed discussion over ancient sea life — proving that even prehistory isn’t always written in stone.


Comments





























































 

Norm
Norm
Play the desert companion video

DC Scene
Recent Posts
9/18/14  
Prepare to be prepared
9/17/14  
Sunshine
9/16/14  
Norm Schilling's fall planting tips
{more posts...}


Archives
Archives

Newstand Locations
Pick up your Desert Companion today at one of these Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Jamba Juice locations.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf LAKE MEAD & TENAYA
7291 W Lake Mead
Directions


PALMS CASINO
4321 W Flamingo Rd
Directions


UNLV
4550 W Maryland Pkwy Suite A
Directions


CARNIVALE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian Food Court
Directions


THE LAKES
9091 W Sahara Ave
Directions


THE DISTRICT
2220 Village Walk Dr Suite 140
Directions


MIRACLE MILE
3663 Las Vegas Blvd S Suite 45
Directions


CANYON POINT
10834 W Charleston Blvd Suite 200
Directions


TOWN CENTER
3645 S Town Center Dr Suite 101
Directions


PATRICK
6115 S Rainbow Blvd Suite 101
Directions


PALAZZO
3265 Las Vegas Blvd, Suite 1600
Directions


TOWN SQUARE
6599 Las Vegas Blvd, South #P-8149
Directions


BRIDGE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian
Directions


BOULDER CITY
Boulder Dam Credit Union
530 Avenue G
Boulder City NV
Directions

Jumba Juice

PEBBLE
1500 N. Green Valley Pkwy Suite 240
Directions


SAHARA & EASTERN
2675 S. Eastern Ave Suite 400
Directions


MCCARRAN MARKETPLACE
5905 S Eastern Ave Suite 108
Directions
NORTH MESA PLAZA
1829 W. Craig Road Unit 3
Directions


CANNERY CORNER
2546 E. Craig Road Suite 135
Directions


WESTLAND FAIR
1121 S. Decatur Blvd
Directions



Also available at Clark County and Henderson libraries.
Emerald City Smoothie

ST GEORGE
2376 East Red Cliffs Drive #502
St. George, UT 84790
Directions


Desert Companion