It is a legendary tentacled sea monster which ate whales and even ships. Now one researcher claims he has found proof the mythical creature actually did exist.
Professor Mark McMenamin, a paleontologist at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, said he has discovered markings on the remains of sea creatures which could prove an ancient, bus-sized species of octopus – like the mythical Kraken – was behind their demise.
Prof McMenamin says his evidence of the Kraken, which would have been up to 30m long, comes from the vicious injures it inflicted on the giant marine reptile ichthyosaur, either by drowning the creature or snapping its neck.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis.
The researcher claims he can tell by examining the placement and sucker markings on bones, which seems to prove the creatures were drowned or had their necks snapped by a Kraken-like creature.
The scientist’s theory first surfaced when he began examining at the remains of nine ichthyosaurs from the Shonisaurus popularis species at the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada.
It had been suggested the creatures, which have with a porpoise-like head and a long, toothed snout and have been likened to whales, died from a toxic plankton bloom in shallow water.
But Prof McMenamin said: ‘I was aware that anytime there is controversy about depth, there is probably something interesting going on.’
Not only did the markings on the bones suggest to him that the creatures were not all killed at the same time, Prof McMenamin said the arrangement of bones suggested an octopus type creature like the Kraken had drowned the ichthyosaurs or broken their necks.
‘It became very clear that something very odd was going on there,” he said. ‘It was a very odd configuration of bones.
Prof McMenamin also noticed, because of the arrangement, that they had been carried away from where they were killed, leading him to think they had been carried to the Kraken’s lair and dumped in the pattern of the mysterious creature’s tentacles in a ‘midden’ – a pile of remains accumulated by the beast.
‘Modern octopus will do this,’ Prof McMenamin said. ‘What if there was an ancient, very large sort of octopus, like the Kraken of mythology?’
‘I think that these things were captured by the Kraken and taken to the midden and the cephalopod would take them apart.’
Prof McMenamin explains the absence of any Kraken fossils with the fact that octopuses are soft-bodied creatures, but sceptics say his explanation is simply circumstantial evidence.
Brian Switek, a research associate at the New Jersey State Museum, writing for Wired.com, said Mr McMenamin’s theory is nothing more than ‘bone reading.’
But Prof McMenamin added he is ready for the critics: ‘We have a very good case.’