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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Some More From The Mailbag I

Tyler Stone sent me a drawing he had made of a Many-Finned Sea-Serpent and I wrote back that I liked his drawing but there was just no way you could make any one reconstruction to adequately illustrate the type. After which he sent this reply which I thought was worth passing on:

Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

I do understand that the problem with drawing a many-finned is that there is no way of making an accurate composite without drawing different kinds of animals to fit the reports. I think a good example would be in Tim Morris's art for this type:

Heuvelmans's Many-Finned (left) and Champagne's Many-Finned (right) by Tim Morris

The basic types described are supposed to be the same basic creature, but they look completely different from each other. So there is no accurate composite. My drawing was based off of the Coleman and Huyghe version. So the illustration I used was most likely inaccurate for the reports already, at least compared to other versions.

I have other cryptid drawings I can send if you wish. I hope you enjoyed my many-finned sketch. Personally, no matter how redoubtable the type is, I think there will always be something charismatic about the Many-Finned.

Yours truly,
-Tyler Stone

The "Charismatic" part is probably due to the attempt to make this creature a union of opposites: a sort of walrus-faced waterbug or a whale crossed with a centepede. Or as in the Ogopogo song "His father was an earwig and his mother was a whale" And then beyond that you have to contend to fantasies meant to depict something described with such an enormous variance of features that it can have four to twelve fins on a side, be three feet broad and sixty feet long with a row of three-foot fins, or fifteen feet broad and sixty feet long with side fins probably ten to twelve feet long as well. FEW artists have tried to draw the extremes, which of course look nothing like the usual reconstructions seen in print and nothing like each other. And I am afraid that there is a great deal of variance in the degree of "Charisma" between a long noodle 20X as long as it is wide, with fins of about equal width on either side, or a broad wedge 4X as long as its greatest width with two rows so side fins making the width even more exaggerated. IMHO, the mass appeal ascribed to the creature in this case is due to a careful selection of what to show and what not to show.
There is a similarly exact selection process in which images meant to depict "Dragons" are shown nowadays. Any more the "Dragons" have been certified as Dungeons & Dragons fantasy versions with four legs and wings, armour and horns, of an enormous size and breathing fire. Traditional dragons are a great deal more varied than this and most of their depictions in historical documents are not nearly so "Charismatic"

Another message I recieved this week concerned a continuance of the Giant Beaver attributed to Lake Okanagon, the Ogopogo lake. My correspondant in this matter suggested that the 1989 Chaplin photo of "Ogopogo-and explained away as a beaver smacking its tail on the water-would instead be a Castoriodes because it seems much larger than an ordinary beaver and more especially because the tail seems to be the wrong shape. So if this is true we have our first identifiable photo of a surviving Giant Beaver.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. Could the many-finned sea serpent be distantly related to archaic ziphiid whales? This may explain the varying number of "fins" observed by the witnesses; the archaic ziphiids have built-in "pockets" that they can tuck their flippers into, so the number of fins observed will depend on the number of flippers which are tucked in to their sides and the number of flippers that aren't.

    1. There is every reason to suspect that the different reports describe different things and do not belong together as a natural unit. The different report different numbers of fins, fins of differing sizes, shapes and positions, and bodies range from unusually thin to very fat and wide. This has been remarked upon separately by independent researchers and I count myself among them.


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