Fossil squid ink that still writes!


Photo iStockphoto Ink found in Jurassic-era squid

British scientists have found thousands of fossils at a site at Christian Malford, Wiltshire, UK, which often have such exquisitely preserved features that it can hardly be denied that their burial was sudden.1 Under long-age convention, the rock in which the fossils are found, called the Oxford clay, is labelled as from the “Jurassic period”.

The site has actually been known about since the Victorian era, and was “one of the first in the world to yield fossils of fragile muscle and stomach tissue.” 2 Its exact location was lost. Dr Phil Wilby, of the British Geological Survey, is leader of the team that excavated the fossils after having in 2008 rediscovered the site.

The fossil that has been making headlines is the ink sac of an extinct type of squid, Belemnotheutis antiquus. Separated from the animal’s body, the ink-filled sac was preserved intact. The now-dry and solidified ink within it was nevertheless “of exactly the same structure as that of today’s version [of squid]” and when “ground up with an ammonia solution,” the resultant inky fluid was used to draw a picture of the fossil animal and write its Latin name underneath.2,3

Wilby was quoted as calling it the “Medusa effect”, after the creature in Greek mythology whose gaze turned people instantly into stone. He said, “Specimens turn to stone within a matter of days, before the soft parts can be eaten away.”2 Obviously, not only would the chemical conditions have to be just right, but the creatures would have to be rapidly buried. His research will focus on trying to work out “why so many creatures perished in the area and how some have been so well-preserved they look as if they have only just died.”2

Of course, the worldwide Flood of Noah is an obvious explanation that keeps on being overlooked. Also overlooked is the fact that this ink is supposed to be c.150 million years old. Even when isolated in perfect conditions, the idea that the structure would remain intact for such vast time periods is a very big stretch indeed. Chemical structures “fall apart” all by themselves over time due to the randomizing effects of molecular motion.

Yet these fossilized squid are so well-preserved that Wilby himself observed: “They can be dissected as if they are living animals, you can see the muscle fibres and cells.”3

One would surely think that the researchers might have stopped to question the alleged age of what they were seeing with their own eyes. It was certainly credulity-stretching, as Dr Wilby admitted: “It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimensions, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old.”3

Interestingly, in 1997, Creation magazine featured an article on mud springs, also in Wiltshire, UK (near the town of Wootton Bassett, near Swindon)4—also disgorging Jurassic fossils, and from the same Oxford clay. A local palaeontologist described the phenomenon as being “like a fossil conveyor belt bringing up finds from clay layers below and then washing them out in a nearby stream”. That case, too, featured amazing preservation, with shells made of their original constituents (aragonite5), and with their original iridescence, even “shimmering mother-of-pearl”. And in the astonished words of the same fossil expert, “There are the shells of bivalves which still have their original organic ligaments and yet they are millions of years old’!”

Clearly, a large number of animals were killed and buried very suddenly under conditions consistent with those that a world Flood could produce in some areas. In fact, even fossils that are much less preserved require rapid (though not necessarily as rapid as this) burial. They cannot wait for years and years to be gradually covered up by sediment, or else even their bones would have disintegrated/dislocated much more than what is found.

When one finds animal remains like original shell ligaments, and ink ‘powder’ that can still be reconstituted into usable ink, it reminds one of the equally astonishing recent finds of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils. These have now more than once been strongly confirmed.6 There was no expectation at all that protein structures can last for millions of years—in fact, known chemistry and thermodynamics indicate that this should not happen. The “extended interview” about this matter with dinosaur fossil expert Phil Currie on CMI’s Darwin film DVD The Voyage that Shook the World is one not to be missed. The evidence at face value suggests a far smaller time, thousands of years at the very most, since these fossils were entombed.

Published: 15 September 2009


  1. Alden, A, Jurassic squid ink recovered, about.com:geology, 26 August 2009. Return to text.
  2. Derbyshire, D, 155 million years old and still inky: The perfectly preserved squid fossil amazing scientists, www.dailymail.co.uk, 19 August 2009. Return to text.
  3. BBC News, Ink found in Jurassic-era squid, 19 August 2009. Return to text.
  4. Snelling, A, A ‘165 million year’ surprise, Creation 9(2):14–15, March 1997. Return to text.
  5. A form of calcium carbonate. Return to text.
  6. See Wieland, C, Dinosaur soft tissue and protein—even more confirmation! (plus the associated links to previous articles on the topic) on creation.com, 6 May 2009. Return to text.