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Last Updated: Wednesday August 19 2009 14:57 GMT

Old squid drawn with its own ink

A picture of the squid drawn with it's own ink

Scientists have sketched a drawing using ink from a fossilised squid that's about 150 million years old.

It sounds unbelievable, but experts found the one-inch long black ink sac after cracking open a rock during a dig near Trowbridge, in Wiltshire.

It was so well preserved scientists were able to mix some of the contents of the sac with a chemical called ammonia to turn it into ink again.

That was then used to draw a picture of the creature and write its Latin name.

"We felt that drawing the animal with it would be the ultimate self-portrait," said Dr Phil Wilby, from the British Geographical Survey, who led the research.

The ink sac in the rock
Experts say the structure is similar to ink from a modern squid

The ancient creature is said to be similar to the modern-day squid.

"It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old," said Dr Wilby.

"The structure is similar to ink from a modern squid so we can write with it."

Tests

The find comes two years after researchers started looking for the place where thousands of Jurassic fossils with preserved soft tissues were found during Victorian times.

The ink sac is now in the British Geological Survey collection in Nottingham, but part of it has been sent to Yale University, in America, for more tests.