Thursday, August 20, 2009

Squid ink

Another incredible fossil find, this time by the British Geological Survey at a site in Wiltshire, England, that produced vast quantities of well-preserved specimens during the Victorian era. They discovered the 150 million-year-old fossil of a squid with a perfectly preserved ink sac! Astonished paleontologists attribute this to the "Medusa Effect," an extremely quick process of fossilization. To mark the discovery, they reliquified some of the ink with an ammonia solution and used it to draw the specimen and write its Latin name, Belemnotheutis antiquus, beneath it. Some of the ink has been sent to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, for chemical analysis, and lead researcher Dr. Phil Wilby explains, "It's very valuable material so we won't be using up any more of it now we've done the first test." Contemporary squid ink, on the other hand, is pricey, but available on-line. Or if you are more adventurous, you may choose to harvest it yourself, as demonstrated here. I was familiar with the use of squid ink for cooking, but not for printing, and when I looked it up, I found this video - hilariously well-done, no?! Here's how the stuff is produced in the wild. I also wondered if tattoo artists used squid ink, but its seems that the answer is no, despite the number of studios called "Squid Ink Tattoo." Time to try some squid ink pasta...

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