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Friday, 8 July 2011

More Comments on Heuvelmans' Sea-serpents

The Major Types of Bernard Heuvelmans' Sea-Serpents, ca 1969

Diagram showing Sperm whale and its skeleton. Please note the row of small humps on top of the tail section: Heuvelmans said that the humps on the back of his sea-serpent were similar to these and much the same function, but were more prominent to the witnesses.

The shape of the Sperm whale's head is due to its including a large tank holding an oily substance, the spermaceti. This organ evidently functions as a hydrostatic organ. maintaining the animal's position in the water while it swims. Heuvelmans assumes that the humps on the back of the Many-humped Sea-serpent are hydrostatic organs and in this case he is following Ivan Sanderson's suggestion.

Heuvelmans' Many-Humped Sea-Serpent
by Pristichampsus (Tim Morris)

This incorporates several sets of mistaken observations. The unknown animal involved turns out to be the same as the Long-necked Sea-serpent or Oudemans' "Megophias" but the observations of the humps are a series of mistaken observations of waves in the wake. Different kinds of animals make the appropriate kind of wake, but including both Longnecks and Killer whales, other whales, boats, sharks, large fishes and other kinds of Sea-serpents.See my earlier CFZ blog:

Forepart of Manyhumped SS, Backfin and Pectoral fins, derived from Orca (Killer whale) in a position unfamiliar to the witnesses. This also bolstered the opinion that the "Correct" colouration for the type was black on the back, white on the belly-like an Orca.

Heuvelmans' LongNecked SS
By Pristichampsus

This type also features a shorter line of humps on the back which Heuvelmans says are of variable contour: one big central hump on the back, or several medium sized ones (which he says that the big central hump causes the appearance of two or three large humps together) or else the humps are whipped by turbulance waves in the water to as many as six or seven smaller humps in a line. His book In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents includes a plate showin a swimming seal to make the point about the turbulence waves. This follows after earlier suggestions that the humps might be inflatable airsacs, which is a theory Dinsdale championed at first and then Sanderson took up thereafter. Heuvelmans continued the idea the humps might be airsacs in the Many-humped kind and I used to go along with the idea in the case of the Longnecks. Discussions with members at the yahoo group Frontiers of Zoology did bring home the extreme precariousness of the arrangement, when an accidental puncture would be disastrous and too great of water pressure on the whole could blow out the whole system and potentially expose a large section of the back to the mercy of the outside world.

So a safer model might be like the sperm whale's spermaceti tank removed to the center of the back as a hydrostatic organ in lieu of a back fin. Anatomically it would be composed of mostly the top layer and the bottom layer of tougher connective tissue and in between, a chamber full of an oily or waxy secretion. This would be equivalent to what Heuvelmans was saying when he was calling the hump area a sack of oily fat, which would come down to basically that same structure, anatomically speaking, and it would act the same way to become variable-contour in the water.

However for the most part and for the very LONG hump-trains, we would still be talking in terms of standing wave effects caused by the way the wake works.

Heuvelmans also said that the Longneck occasionally showed "Horns" that were presumably erectile nostrils forming snorkles. I would have to say that the feature occurs so infrequently, and is also known to show up consistently i one category of mistakes, that this feature is unconfirmed. It is best not to make too big a deal over them. Given that the "Mane" is sometimes said to be spiny, the "Horns" might be nothing more complicated than part of a young male's first mane starting to come in (They are definitely spoken of as part of the mane in the Corinthian SS's description)

Parsons 1751 Long-Necked Seal (7 foot long Juvenile=adult male no more than 20 feet long)

There are on the other hand still good reason to think there are such things as Long-necked seals. In fact they had a scientific description long ago but were mostly forgotten since then.

The Kivik Stone Evidently Illustrating Long-Necked Seals.
The Long-necked seals turn out to be not so very large and still in the size range of the "Known" seals since reports of them are universally between ten and twenty feet long.

Recent photos allegedly showing a Longnecked Sea-Serpent swimming off of Devon, UK:

Although the photos are not clear, the great distance between the head and the (supposedly turtlelike) body of this sea Monster do cause me to think this might be a fairly young Longnecked sea-serpent. This would be about right for the usual attitude in the water, the creature must be putting out some sort of an effort to seem to ride higher in the water, probably by using its paddles in a downstroke. If I understand these photos correctly, the head of the crature at top is facing right and at bottom it is facing left.

Closely-Packed Pilot Whales, Origin of SOME "Manyfinned" SS cases. At times the head of one is seen and identified as looking exactly like a Pilot whale's head.

Many-Finned Orcas, Puget Sound pod

I mentioned before that it was convenient for me to speak of Bruce Champagne's and Bernard Heuvelmans' Marine Saurians as different creatures: For me, Heuvelmans was describing a more definite Mosasaur with scales arranged in rings around the body, and the emphasis on the WWI UBoat Captains' reports. On the other hand, Champagne emphasizes a different suite of features including a potted coloration, shortened head and more obvious feet with webbed separate digits, and he mentions a Mediterranean population. In this case, that means the Medcroc to me. The Medcroc is often written off as errant examples of the Nile Crocodile, but reports say that it is broader and fatter, with a broader snout ("Duckbilled"), and they say that it can grow to enormous sizes over 50 feet long for a really big one. (One of them was definitely the Tarrasque, and estimates on the Tarrasque's size can range from 50 to 75 feet long)

Below is a representational Sea Dragon from a Roman coin: its head is elongated and looks like a crocodile's head, and the body shows four short widely-spaced legs, and so this might be a representation of a Medcroc. medcroc "Dragons" were definitely known to come ashore in Greece and Turkey in Classical days, and some are still turning up in Italy up to the present.

The colour illustration is the Aiya Napa seamonster seen around Cyprus as interpreted by Pristichampsus. The creature is called "The Friendly Monster" locally because it is not known to have ever attacked anubody. Some pretty fantastic descriptions are ascribed to it, and here Tim Morris depicts it as a sort of Mosasaur. From some of the more recent descriptions it is more definitely a crocodile, and it might be another surviving population of the Medcroc.

Early French depiction of Tarrasque on a church pillar, from Wikipedia, Image reversed. Note similarity of shape of the head (right) to the head of an alligator. The scales on the back are squared here, but also said to be interspersed with pointed ones.

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