Clash Of Titans
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.

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