Today's little lesson in how to use Occam's RazorS

Over at Ars Technica, Brian Switeck has a hilarious article about the story from earlier this week about giant, prehistoric krakens creating self-portraits of themselves using the bones of their prey. I know this may come as a surprise to you, but this theory may not have been based on the most reasonable explanation for the evidence at hand:

There is no direct evidence for the existence of the animal the McMenamins call "the kraken." No exceptionally preserved body, no fossilized tentacle hooks, no beak-nothing. The McMenamins' entire case is based on peculiar inferences about the site. It is a case of reading the scattered bones as if they were tea leaves able to tell someone's fortune. Rather than being distributed through the bonebed by natural processes related to decay and preservation, the McMenamins argue that the Shonisaurus bones were intentionally arrayed in a "midden" by a huge cephalopod nearly 100 feet long (how the length of the imaginary animal was estimated is anyone's guess). But that's not all-the McMenamins speculate that his "kraken" played with its food:

The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait.

I guess a giant, ichthyosaur-eating "kraken" wasn't enough. A squid with a stroke of artistic genius was clearly the simplest explanation for the formation of the bonebeds. *facepalm*

Let this be a little reminder to everyone that one ought to use Occam's Razor regularly and often. For those who don't know, Occam's Razor is a scientific principle that suggests we explain evidence using theories that require the fewest new assumptions to be made. And by "new assumptions," we mean hyper-intelligent, giant, artistically-minded krakens.

via Ars Technica