A Fossil Squid from Germany


TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
Evening all,

Unlike ammonites, squid and their close cousins are very rarely preserved as fossils as they contain very few hard parts. So here's an opportunity to show a photo of recent acquisition of one of these rare fossils for you.

This is a photo of the gladius of a specimen of Plesioteuthis prisca preserved in lithographic limestone. It was found in Germany in the famous Solnhofen deposits that gave us those amazing specimens of the dino-bird Archaeopterix. It dates to the Upper Jurassic period at a date of approximately 150 million years old, give or take a couple of million. Technically speaking it is not a squid but is an ancient vampyromorph and, although not its direct ancestor, was on the cephalopod lineage that eventually led to the modern Vampire squid.

It is one of only two known genera of fossil vampyromorphs that had tentacles, and a characteristic long tapering gladius. Sadly this is not complete in this specimen and has been broken off towards the head end, but is mostly complete. Sometimes these animals are found complete with arms and ink-sac preserved, artists have found that the ink from some of these Solnhofen squid can still be ground up and used as pigment!

Plesioteuthis is thought to have lived in warm open-waters above reef environments. I have put a little reconstruction of the animal in the corner of the picture to give an impression of what the animal probably looked like. The second picture is a labelled in German diagram of some of the features visible in other specimens of Plesioteuthis.

I hope you agree that it's a nice find, (though pity I couldn't afford a complete one!)


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Thanks Squidman!

Architeuthoceras said:
Is that a mantle impression around the gladius?

I think it might be Kevin. That area is certainly discoloured compared to the rest of the slab and looks of a grainier texture too. If it is the mantle it is sadly not complete as it does not extend to the point of the gladius where the fins should be seen, but recurves along the length.

I meant to try to get some brighter shots in the daylight outside today...but it's pouring with rain out there. Maybe next week instead.

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