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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Reply: CFZ Blog Reprints on The Water Horse

Unfortunately, Blogger has taken today to become disagreeable once again. Owing to the fact that Blogger has stopped my ability to post within the comment section of the appropriate blog entry, I have decided to get around it by putting up another blog entry on the subject.

In this case we are having technical difficulties arise on the string of comments between myself and Glasgow Boy concerning the Water Horse blog entry just posted.

Glasgow Boy said...
There are no wild moose in Scotland and have not been for thousands of years. So why suggest they accounted for 1930s sightings at Loch Ness?

If there were elk roaming Scottish forests for centuries, I am sure at least one would have been shot or captured by our zealous game hunters.

25 May 2011 04:46
Dale Drinnon said...
There have been reintroduced moose (elk) in Scotland at several different times including in the 1800s. They were introduced to be hunted and in fact they were hunted all along.

As to the question of "Why should they be considered a candidate?" the answer is brutally direct: Because the descriptions match

The important fact is this: Water Horsases are not Plesiosaurs and they never were. Water-Horses are legendary creatures that look like horses but go into the water Descriptions of the Loch Ness Monster which look like Plesiosaurs are not and never should have been confused with Water-Horses.

Now up until the Loch Ness Monster hit the news in the 1930s, the only reports locally were Water-horses, save only for the odd reports such as made by Alfred Cruikshank. There were several reports of creatures seen on the shore and going on land, either coming out of or going into the water. These animals looked like horses or camels generally, stood about six feet tall at the shoulder were hairy and shaggy, had a hump on the back, long legs and occasionally even specifically cloven hooves.

Basically there is no other candidate that comes so close to matching that description. And I must emphasize again, This has nothing at all to do with such reports as Arthur Grant's, which describe a Plesiosaur-shaped creature at Loch Ness

The problem is in assuming all reports being called "the Loch Ness Monster" refer to the same thing. They obviously do not. This is a problem which plagues ALL Cryptozoology, in all categories of reports.

25 May 2011 05:28
Glasgow Boy said...
Granted, but how many elk and how close to Loch Ness? I would speculate these very few Elk were kept on the landowner's estate and not allowed to escape.

Agreed that water horses were never seen as plesiosaurs. The locals matched them to known animals of their time and they were seen right up to 1933.

Your theory is not that much different to ideas that people mistake common deer for Nessie. How significantly different is the Elk, especially when one is far more likely to see a deer swimming across the loch?

One area the descriptions do not match is that the creature submerges and stays submerged. Elk do not submerged (or deer).

The Fordyce creature is unusual but frankly looks nothing like an elk (big head v small head). Other land sightings describe a creature nothing like an elk or deer. Pre-1933 land sightings also do not have the "expect a monster" mentality of witnesses but still they were startled by the unusual and frightening appearance of the creature. Elk or deer would not evoke such a response.

25 May 2011 06:40

Post a Comment

The major difference about elk is that they are bigger: they are big enough to match the specified dimensions, including the Fordice account. As to that account, it seems the creature was seen hindquarters-on and the head end was farthest from the witrness: besides that, I imagine the popular image of the monster affected the witness' memory by the time the account was actually published, which was of course after the main flap of sightings had taken hold of the media's attention. The rest of the creature from the shoulders back resembles a poorly-drawn moose and you will note that three of the four feet are cloven and camel-like

I suspect that elk were not the only types of deer involved, they were just the biggest deer with the closest resemblance to a horse (without antlers, which means much of the year for males and all the year for females)

You are incorrect when you say the other land sightings were nothing like a moose. On the contrary, several of the stories started out sounding like a moose (or a plain horse or even a camel) and became more "Monster" like through retelling, partly due to the way they were presented by the compilers of the reports when the compilers wanted the reports to agree with each other. Two of the accounts have splintered into multiple records by the collectors and were it not for the fact that the two events were supposed to be a generation apart I would say they were the same incident: one was supposed to be in 1879 by a group of schoolchildren or in 1880 by E.H. Bright and a cousin and both versions have a longnecked grey creature waddling through the brush to the water. Length of legs was actually not specified and probably long enough to hoist it above the level of the brush. The next was in 1909 or 1910 and listed in other accounts as in 1912 or 1919 indicating three to six children including the MacGruers. Tim Dinsdale is responsible for finding out that both accounts the same: the second is accredited to Mrs. Peter Cameron and her maiden name was MacGruer. The accounts simiarly claim this is a brontosaurus-shaped creature but in fact all of the accounts agree it was shaped like a camel, with long legs and a largish head (that got smaller thropugh retelling) And Mrs. Mac Lennan specified that her creature which she also saw hindquarters-first as lying on a cliff face had cloven hoofs like pig's feet. This creature subsequently tumbled into the loch from its shelf and I suppose it had fallen onto the shelf from above and was probably already injured. She also speciofied that it looked much larger in the water and leaving a wash (not necessarily meaning on that same occasion, she had multiple sightings)

And then in February 1934 Patricia Harvey and Jean Mac Donald saw another longlegged creature moving swiftly by moonlight and estimated its size as six feet tall at the shoulder and 8-10 feet long, the dimensions of a moose again. That is about half a dozen of the land sightings that all fit to that same pattern against only two or three (prior to 1934) which specify a "Monster" shape-easily a dominance of two to one, and of course the several vague accounts cannot be counted either way.

As to submergence, that does not hold with the specific data given in these accounts: it cannot be said for certain that the creature stayed submerged in these instances, because the witnesses usually did not hang around to look after it later. Nor yet do the statements of extreme fright have any bearing on these accounts in particular. In both insatnces, those statement can only be made by inferrance from different, separate accounts.

Once again, my point is that the Water Horse is a traditional creature and already in place when the "monster" flap began. And my opionon is that the Plesiosaur-shaped creature was intrusive into the Loch from the sea at that point, not part of a local breeding population, and most likely only there temporarily (ie, until it died)

In this case, I do not believe it can it be said that "I would speculate these very few Elk were kept on the landowner's estate and not allowed to escape." constiutes anything other than a mere supposition which cannot be taken as direct evidence either for or against the possible presence of stray elk in the area at the time.

Thank you very much for your commentary, It is good for you to voice your opinion.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. "And my opionon is that the Plesiosaur-shaped creature was intrusive into the Loch from the sea at that point, not part of a local breeding population, and most likely only there temporarily (ie, until it died)"

    Dear Dale, as an avid reader of your blog I just couldnt resist commenting on this statement.
    What brings you to this assumption, given that the following lochs in Scotland also have many sightings of a plesiosauroid creature throughout history:

    Loch Arkaig, Loch Morar, Loch Lochy, Loch Shiel, Loch Lomond, Loch Quoich(?)and Loch Linhe.

    All these lochs are rather close to each other and most are connected by either the Caledonian Canal or the Great Glen. By way of Loch Linhe there would be access to the sea.
    There are some more Lochs but they arent that close to the others I named like Loch Suianaval on the Isle of Lewis and Loch-na-Beiste. At some of these lochs there was even animal sacrifice to the "beast" of the loch in the ancient times. Interestingly they are all in the west of Scotland. Personally I assume there would be a breeding and wandering population.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    Best Regards

  2. Here is the next reply that I have been unable to add since last Friday:

    The evidence does seem to indicate that these creature reports do not generally eminate from any one lake only over the passage of many years, but that the creatures are commonly known to travel upstream or downstream and the reports should be thought of as riverine rather than thinking of them as lacustrine. At the same time, not all "Monster" reports are created equal, and the majority of reports are just not of much value. Worldwide, the majority of reports are "String-of-buoys" reports and those reports are basically worthless. They are describing a wave action and many different things can cause that effect. Sometimes a long neck breaks the water in front and on those occasions we have the right to think a Plesiosaur-shaped creature is making the wave: but on other occasions whales or large fishes have been definitely known to create the same effect. For the most part, nearly all these other sightings from Scotland are indeterminate. A few of the sightings seem to be Longnecked creatures but it is difficult to identify clusters for multiple sightings in the category. My explanation is always that there could have been creatures of that sort there at one time, but that does not mean they are located there all the time or that they would necessarily be at such-and-such a location at any given time.

    I have done a statistical analysis of the reports from Loch Morar and statistically they are much like the common sightings at Loch Ness: but on the other hand the specific reports from each Loch that closely resemble one another tend to fall into the "Master-Otter" category. Loch Arkaig repoprts sound strongly like a moose again, and Loch Shiel reports are nothing so definite (translations from the original Gaelic is uncertain in some of the reports). Loch Linhe also has reports of the Longnecked category as noted by Roy Mackal, but Lochs Oich and Quoich seem to be more of the Master-otter types once again.
    "Monsters" that are supposed to "Haunt" specific areas are supernatural in nature and not typically living animals. For that reason alone it is best to change gears, stop speaking of "The Monsters that live in Loch 'X'" and start thinking in terms of accidental appearances of large but rare animals that range over large territories. And possibly more than one kind of large animal whose ranges happen to overlap at times.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Dale,

    I think you are making the data fit the theory. Firstly, there are no elk in Scotland. I asked you for specifics on where and when but you did not choose to reply. Unlike the more exotic interpretations of Nessie, surely an Elk carcass or live animal would have been found or caught around Loch Ness a long time ago. They can't hide under 700 foot of peaty water after all. Or the idea that an elk turned up in 1933 and died a few years later is just too convenient. There are too many improbables that have to come together for the elk theory.

    1. One or two turned up when they are not indigenous to Scotland.
    2. Witnesses exaggerated their statements through misperception, lying and partial amnesia.
    3. No one stayed around long enough to see one submerge and if they did it was probably drowning.
    4. Why no such sightings along the other Great Glen lochs?

    If you say that the stories become more plesiosaur like with the telling then you have to go the whole hog. Fordyce would have added flippers and made his animal less hairy to keep up with the plesiosaurs! And to be frank, an elk head is HUGE, it is a bit of a push to have us believe it was not noticeable to witnesses.

    Some of the accounts may have elk like features such as hooves which need some explaining on my part. But others don't and that invalidates the elk theory - it has to explain everything.

    So please do not go down the "rest are hoaxes" approach to shoehorn in partial theories! I know it bolsters your case but try and make your elk theory stand on its own four feet.

    I am coincidently preparing a talk on land sightings (that explains my posts here). I will add comments to my own blog ( as time passes.



  4. I do not see how you can make such claims given the information that I have provided for you before. It is not necessary for my theory to rely on IMPORTED Elk to make it work: indeed the original thesis supposed some had survived in Scotland since the Dark Ages when the more recent previous remains were dated to. I just found that including the information about introduced Elk makes the theory more tangible to people. The CFZ posting of this information referenced an article on the introduced Elk, including photos, and the photo of the Scottish moose posted on the blog article this time is legitimately one such as it is labelled.And not only were elk hunted at the time, elk heads and antlers are displayed in Scottish hunting lodges since the 1800s, also indicated in the original source material.

    I tell you that the land sightings up to and including 1933 and 1934 feature long-legged. horse or camel-shaped creatures over Plesiosaur or "Monster" shaped creatures two to one and you say I am forcing the evidence. The data for the land sightings is drawn directly from Roy Mackal, The Monsters of Loch Ness, check the records yourself. And when I explain specific points about the specific reports you asked about, including the point that that nobody stayesd around long enough to see if the creatures emerged again or not, There is nothing suspicious in that, it is the most common statement all along if you go through the records which actually specify anything at all on the subject. Furthermore I have specifically pointed out to you other specific instances where a creature seen on land had a huge head which then became diminished throiugh retelling. Specifically and independantly affirming the instance of the Fordyce account which you are speaking of.

    I shall be waiting for your blog for I get the definite feeling that you have nothing that will "Explain everything" yourself. It seems it bothers you when my theory does "Explain everything" and despite your rhetoric to the contrary, the Elk Theory DOES explain the "Water Horse" part in specific. The long-legged, hump-backed, cloven-hoofed, hairy creature reports which ALL other authors refuse to comment upon because they are "Anomalous" (For which see Jerome Clark Unexplained! and other such sources.

    And if you come up with anything that says something other than the land sightings at Loch Ness up to and including 1933-1934 are NOT dominantly long-legged, large-rumped, long-necked quadrupeds in the realm of six feet tall at the shoulder and estimated as eight to ten feet long, spoken of TWICE AS OFTEN as any other kind of repored "Creature" on land, you shall be misrepresenting a matter that is public record and has been so for a good many decades now.

    I am also QUITE Surprised at you when I have told you specifically and repeatedly that I count the Plesiosaur-shaped sightings, specifying Arthur Grant's as an example, form a second category quite unrelated to the Water Horses of Legend, that they intruded upon Loch Ness at a specific point in time and they werre NOT part of the typical landscape up to that point. Instead you have shown repeatedly that you have completely missed that information, this time around by assuming I was going to say "The Rest are Hoaxes". Might I suggest that your criticisms of what I have said only answer what you have assumed I said from an only-superficial reading of my material rather than any actual attempt to understand what I have been saying?

  5. I suppose I did need to also specify, if anybody DID shoot a moose at Loch Ness and was not licensed to do so, it would be a case of poaching. Therefore if anybody should have shot one and wanted to save themseleves the bother of fines and possible imprisonment, they would simply not report the incident. This would happen whether the elk were placed there legally or illegally. And if they were smuggled in illegaly and not reported, it stands to reason that the whol;e purpose would have been to hunt the animals illegally. It would be a hazardous business, but not unprecidented. There are such things as illegal hunting clubs in the USA.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.


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