Lair of the Kraken discovered in Nevada desert, says exuberant paleontologist


Image Credit: The Kobal Collection

The Kraken occupies a curiously prominent place in modern popular culture. In just the last few years, the giant ship-devouring sea monster has popped up in two major films — the horribly successful Pirates of the Caribbean 2, the successfully horrible Clash of the Titans remake — and a twisty fantasy thriller, to say nothing of the beast’s memorable cameo in God of War II. But rarely is the question asked: Could the Kraken be real? If you believe Professor Mark McMenamin of Mount Holyoke College, then the answer is: Yes, absolutely! McMenamin claims to have discovered the lair of a 100-foot-long Kraken in Nevada (which was underwater some 215 million years ago). Mind you, there’s no Kraken body; the dig site revealed nine fossilized ichthyosaurs, previously thought to be the biggest baddest fish in the prehistoric sea, and something even bigger and badder must have killed them, right? Hence: Kraken.

The science is a little bit more complicated than that (although not enough to convince the anti-Krakenite skeptics over at, but the best part about McMenamin’s theory is that the ichthyosaurs’ bones were arranged by the sea monster in a specific pattern intended to resemble the Kraken’s own tentacles, which means the ichthyosaur graveyard “may represent the earliest known self-portrait.”

Let’s all pause to imagine a young Kraken sculptor staring at its reflection in the water, making an impressionistic sketch of its horrible 20-foot visage using the bones of ichthyosaurs, filling in details using blood-paint made from blue-black plesiosaur ichor, then trying without success to sell its self-portrait to a Kraken artistic establishment that just wasn’t ready for the next wave of Kraken artistic evolution, maaaaaan. Anyhow, we live on a mysterious planet.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich


Comments (40 total) Add your comment
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  • Dessy


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      • Andrew

        You’re a m*ron

  • Clete

    A lot of problems with this article. First and foremost..Ichthyosaurs aren’t fish… They were ocean dwelling reptiles (dinosaurs). Also, fossils that appear in groups usually indicate a mass killing by some kind of enviromental event, not a killing by a preditor.

    • k

      But if you read the original article, the fossils are not the result of a mass killing. There are indications that the creatures were killed over a period of time–not all at once. However, the self-portrait theory is rather laughable

      • Clete

        Fossils that occur in the same sedimentary layer cannot be dated to anything other than a long geologic period. It would be impossible for a true paleontologist to determine that the fossils were brought to a site at different times.

      • daisyj

        According to the write-up in Nature, they can tell because the bones appear to have been exposed to the sea water for different amounts of time, which makes the single-event theory less likely. Which is not to say that a narcissistic giant squid is.
        (I mean, obviously, this was done by aliens because there were no crops to draw in yet.)

    • JMB in FL

      I really hope you are just being satirical here… because if not, OMFG, get a sense of humor already. Also, spellcheck is your friend, “preditor.” ::smh::

    • Justin

      Yawn. Who cares? This isn’t Science Weekly. Get over yourself. The article supposed to be fun and not meant to be taken THAT seriously.

  • Sami

    “may represent the earliest known self-portrait.” “May” being the operative word…

  • Monty Atkins

    Those werent fossils! Someone left their “art car” from Burning Man in the desert!

  • An inspiration for Terra Nova?

    Some people probably saw the remains of a giant squid or a big octopus, washed up on a beach and came up with the idea for a kraken. I like Clete’s idea that the group of ichthyosaurs were killed by a enviromental event, such as a earthquake.
    As suggested by; the “news” of the kraken has probably given the Syfy channel an idea for it’s next cheapie, low-budget, monster movie. They could call it Crapken,as I am sure most viewers will name it.

    • Syfy’s next lousy movie.

      Sorry for the “An Inspiration for Terra Nova” headline. That was from an eariler post where I suggested that the idea for the television show Terra Nova might have, (in part), come from a March 1969 episode of Star Trek; All Our Yesterdays, where the people of a doomed planet escape their fate by time travelling back into their planet’s history. Long before the destruction of their world, (by the explosion of a nearby star), occurs. Terra Nova and the kraken have nothing in common, I hope. That show is mainly about land dinosaurs.

  • Soap On A Rope

    I guess that blows the idea that Big Foot was the missing link. I think that Professor McMenamin has just come up with the idea for the next Indiana Jones Movie. Indiana Jones somehow travels back in time using some sort of time machine to investigate the Kraken. The time machine will some how make him young again so he can be to all the stunts.

  • Bill G

    Go with the flow here…if this is a series of Kraken; then the ancient mythological gods must also have existed? The evidence so far supports possibly the final resting place of a species at the time of the great meteor impact? Carbon 14 dating and other scientific evidence must be correlated as in any archeological dig. Let’s wait for the evidence before we create any stories.

    • Soap On A Rope

      The great metor impact could explain why the mythological gods are gone. The onset of the Ice Age must have done them in. But that brings on the questions of if the Mythological Gods existed, why did they not use their powers to prevent the impact by destroying the great meteor? If they had done that, we might still have modern day dinosaurs roaming the earth. That could explain the Loc Ness sea monster.

  • drew

    Thats not where the Kraken’s lair is. Its in my pants.

    • Yarp

      “release the Kraken!”

  • Dinosaur1972

    Here’s hoping they’ll soon find the remains of a small mechanical owl.

    • JMB in FL

      ^And we have a winner, folks! lol

  • jackjackmcmack


  • Jeff

    We dont live on a mysterious planet…. we live on a planet with mysterious people!

  • Biggs

    That’s nothing…i found a totally authentic Sarlacc pit in North-Central Washington.

  • Dicazi

    1) Krakens lived during the era of the dinosaurs.
    2) Noone’s found any fossils of them.
    3) The ichthyosaur bones are arranged in the pattern/portrait of a kraken.

    How does this guy know what a kraken looked like to know that the bones are in that pattern??!!

    • Soap On A Rope

      It can not be that hard to find a picture of a Kraken. There is one at the top of this blog. One of the people in the photo must have taken the picture.

      • Jewel

        L O L

  • Mollyspop

    Kraken? Hmm…I lost mine somewhat recently. His name was Zeke. Doubt he was taken to Nevada.

  • calla

    I don’t even know where to start with this.

    • Fantastic

      Possbily the funniest thread I’ve ever read on here.

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